Jo Israelson, Jennie Markson Apron, 2015. Canvas, cross-stitch, photo transfer, clothespins, ribbon, paper, thread, and buttons, 1.75 x 1.75 foot.

Jo Israelson

Portland, Maine

Maine Jewish Museum

A white taxi sat incongruously on the green lawn outside the Maine Jewish Museum. When visitors took a seat inside the cab, a heavily accented voice began relating a personal story of a journey taken from a far-off place to the streets of Portland, Maine. Irish, Italian, Greek, Eastern European, Bosnian, Somali, and Syrian immigrants have found their way to this northern seaport. Many of them were professionals, teachers, engineers, and physicians in their homelands, and then they found themselves driving cabs through Portland’s narrow streets as they transitioned to new lives in America. Jo Israelson, now based in Balti­more/DC, returned to her old neighborhood to create the exhibition, “Welcoming the Stranger.” The title echoes the mandate from the Bible, the Quran, and the Torah to welcome strangers who come in need. Israelson’s extensive research brought many surprises, one of which was the fact that her great-grandfather had helped to establish the synagogue that is now the Maine Jewish Museum …see the entire review in the print version of May’s Sculpture magazine.

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