Aug 9, 2023 - Oct 8, 2023
*A Minyan to a Million opens to the public on Wednesday, August 9 at 5:00pm with light refreshments.
Over the past 30 years, there has been a resurgence of Jewish conversions of “Crypto-Jews” or Anusim, Latinos who believe they are descendants of Spanish Jews forced to convert to Catholicism during the Spanish Inquisition. “A Minyan to a Million” encompasses nearly 20 years of multimedia documentary exploration of returning Crypto-Jewish communities of the U.S. Southwest and Latin America by artist, Peter Svarzbein.
This ongoing project utilizes different formats to document returning Latino families to normative Judaism. The first, a photographic and video essay and the second and more successful, an evolving food and art installation entitled “Conversos y Tacos Kosher Gourmet Trucks est. 1492.” From the artist’s perspective, Art is a universal language but food is the ultimate unifier. Food is love, care, connection and sustenance, holding a special meaning in both Jewish and Hispanic/Latino cultures. Svarzbein’s work aims to inspire and break down borders, whether cultural, aesthetic or geographic. His practice is focused on exploring notions of history and identity in La Frontera/ the border. Whether it has been shedding light on emerging Crypto-Jews to a larger Jewish or Latino community, or representing the unique relationship between Cd. Juarez, Mexico, and El Paso, Texas through the “El Paso Transnational Trolley Project”, his belief is that art can function as a vehicle for dialog and change.
About the artist:
Peter Svarzbein is a photographer, curator and disruptive media specialist . Graduate of the renowned Eddie Adams Photojournalism Workshop, Svarzbein earned his MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. During graduate school at the SVA, Svarzbein created the “El Paso Transnational Trolley Project.” This self-created activist/artist project is the impetus for Svarzbein’s public service. His work advocating with community leaders resulted in TXDOT committing $97 million to construct a trolley route and refurbish the original streetcars that ran between El Paso and Juarez.
Svarzbein has exhibited work both nationally and internationally including a video installation in the Guggenheim's "Still-Spotting NYC" exhibition, at UTEP's Rubin Gallery in a bi-national exhibition "El Flow" and in the "Puro Borde" exhibition at the INBA Museum of Fine Art in Cd. Juarez, Mex. Of note was his interactive installation "Conversos Y Tacos Kosher Gourmet Trucks est. 1492" which was funded through a grant with the National Endowment for the Arts and featured on NPR's "Here and Now".