I met Lacey Schwartz, Director of Outreach for Be'chol Lashon, in 2008 while attending the ROI Summit of Young Jewish Global Innovators. Though our interactions were brief I sensed a sort of camaraderie with Lacey since we both explored our Jewish roots through creative means.

Recently, I had the chance to catch up with Lacey at the Taste of LimmudNY Arts JAM that occurred on June 3rd 2010 at the Yeshiva University Museum. While I presented a workshop on illuminated midrash-mashups, Lacey presented a teaser of her documentary and led a group discussion.  I followed-up with Lacey to see how the event went for her and to learn more about how her work as a filmmaker fits into the tapestry known as Jewish Art.


JTW: What session did you offer at the Taste of LimmudNY Arts Jam?


LS: I led a session entitled: Outside the Box.  I screened a teaser from my documentary in progress about dual identity and family secrets. I then followed up with a Q & A and a discussion on diversity in the Jewish community.



JTW: What did you enjoy about your session?


LS: Well, what was nice about this Taste of LimmudNY event was that it drew a lot of different people. It seemed like people were there for different reasons so it was nice to not have a unified audience. All the various perspectives melded together and created a diversified experience that was really interesting.


JTW: What was your favorite comment or question from the evening?


LS: I guess I'm most interested by the different things that people connect to. It's cool how this documentary about my personal family secrets and identity can resonate with other folks. One woman shared how her experience of coming out as a lesbian to her family paralleled my situation. Listening to her story about coming out and not being able to connect with her family openly resonated with me and other people in the room.


After the session, a few other people came up to me and divulged their family secrets. People want to be heard, so I guess by sharing my story it makes them feel a bit safer to speak about their secrets. I'm like a magnet for people to confide in now.


JTW: What's your take on Jewish visual history? How does your work fit in or not?


LS:  I guess I never thought about my work through that lens. My work is really about the complexities of experience of family and identity...something individual but intimately shared. As a documentary filmmaker I'm really interested in the "who and how" part of the process. So I guess those are Jewish themes that I see my work fitting into.



JTW: Do you work in anything besides film? Do you visually connect with your culture in other ways?


LS: I think that art and media serve as amazing conversation pieces to shed light on social contexts and the totality of human experience. I work with film and other mediums- online, writing ...  the organization that I work with Be'chol Leshon works with lots of media. In fact, we're partnering up with Shempspeed.com to mount an exhibition for visual artists who address what it "looks like" to be Jewish.  I think that art in all its formats is a wonderful tool to demonstrate how diverse the global Jewish community really is.


For more info about Lacey and her film got to: outsidetheboxproject.com

To learn more about Jewish diversity check out Be'chol Leshon: http://bechollashon.org/


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