A new exhibit at the Women’s Research Center on reproductive justice
As you walk into the Women’s Research Center, a powerful exhibit entitled “Deeply Rooted: Faith in Reproductive Justice” captivates attention and brings empowering stories to light. The exhibit, curated by Caron Tabb, explores reproductive and menstrual justice in a post-Dobbs era. Following the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in June of 2022, artists created these works to demonstrate the need for menstrual equity.
The exhibit highlights female and queer artists of all identities. Tabb was inspired to form and curate the exhibition as a Jewish feminist; each piece looks at abortion, menstruation, and female identity through faith and religion. There are pieces by artists who were formerly members of Jehovah’s Witness, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, and these artists include international and local voices.
Tabb commented, “We often get the impression that faith is meant to restrict reproductive justice, but it is exactly the opposite. When you do your homework, faith is widely understood to be a tool for better reproductive justice.”
Amy Powell, the assistant director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, and Olivia Baldwin, the Rosalie and Jim Shane Curator & Arts Coordinator of the Kniznick Gallery, gave me a tour of the exhibit, and I was blown away by the diversity of thought, medium empowerment that these artists communicated incredibly intricately.
Although there has been a lot of fear, uncertainty, and doubt in this post-Dobbs era, these artists brought together stories from a wide range of truly striking cultures. The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, which hosts this incredible exhibit, has a mission to “promote and produce scholarship and art at the intersection of Jewish studies and women’s and gender studies.” “Deeply Rooted” “draws on Brandeis’ rich history of being a safe place to generate difficult conversations” and attempts to provide a space for productive dialogue.
Liza Heck ’25 came to the opening reception for the exhibit and also visited the exhibit with their Women Playwrights class. Heck shared that “Cultivating a space for artists to have a voice to express themselves when it comes to reproductive justice issues — allows for healing, growth, and a chance for a new kind of conversation, bringing light through a faith-based lens.”
The intersection of policy, faith, and art within this gallery is one that no one should miss, as it gives power and voice to an often underrepresented and taboo issue in American society. Menstruation and abortion are integral to Brandeis’ values of social justice and to overlook these perspectives is to discredit so many powerful voices.
Grace Lassila ’25, president of the Period Activists at Deis, reflected on the significance of the exhibit to her, “So often, topics of reproductive health and menstruation are considered taboo, so to have an art exhibit showcasing different women’s experiences, creating dialogue within the community, and centering the theme of reproductive justice — it’s amazing. I have recommended this exhibit to so many people, as well as to the entire club. Activism is never easy and it can often be frustrating when the cause you are fighting for is never discussed. To have this exhibit here at Brandeis is quite refreshing and hopeful.”
The HBI has also created a pink, colorful, comforting space for visitors to provide feedback and comments on the exhibit. The comments hanging from the space and pasted on the walls give incredibly positive praise of the artists’ and curator’s work. The desire for menstrual and reproductive justice is echoed many times over in these cards.
Looking to the future, the HBI is hoping to possibly extend the exhibit to January and host an artist talk with Dell Marie Hamilton and Roya Amigh through Zoom — and in the Liberman-Miller Lecture Hall at 12 p.m. EST on Dec. 11, 2023. I strongly encourage all Brandeis students, faculty, and staff to check out the “Deeply Rooted” exhibit at the Women’s Research Center and to come to these spaces with open, reflective minds.
The “Deeply Rooted” artists in this exhibit are Lizzy Alejandro, Roya Amigh, Andi Arnovitz, Zoë Buckman, Nani Chacon and Rose B. Simpson, Susan Chen, Dell M. Hamilton, Nayana LaFond, Marla McLeod, Azita Moradkhani, Jacqueline Nicholls, Giovanna Pizzoferrato, Cora Ramirez-V, Winnie van der Rijn, Janice Rubin, Bahareh and Farzaneh Safarani, Charlie Dov Schön, Caron Tabb, and Diana Weymar.