“My Jewish Nose (Es iz nit andersh),” 2019, oil, gold leaf on panel, approx. 8″ x 5″
The visual discussion of how Jews, among others, have interwoven and continue to interweave their threads into the tapestry of America is echoed in a very different manner by Goldie Gross, in her small (8” x 5”), finely-wrought, oil-and-gold-leaf painting, “My Jewish Nose (Es iz nit andersh).” This is a virtual opposite of Rebhan’s image. The beautiful profile detail plays twice on the question of the artist’s identity: she offers what is at once a nose that conforms to stereotype—Jewish noses are not straight, but somehow curved (unless they are corrected by surgery, in a process analogous to but different from name-surgery)—and yet, contrary to stereotype, beautifully wrought: not as the artist painted it, although it is very skillfully done, but as God or the artist’s DNA, her parents and their parents before them and endless progressions of ancestors all ultimately wrought it. It is a beautiful, gently curved nose.
The title undergirds this aesthetic truth: this unique nose, with its distinct shape and skin-tone, is a perfect part of the wide world of noses. The phrase also alludes to her Chabad upbringing, in which Rebbe Schneersohn observed of America, that it “iz nit andersh” from the Old World with regard to living a Jewish life. Like Judaism, this nose is uniquely beautiful, worthy of presentation in an ovoid frame enhanced by billows of gold leaf. The artist’s second contribution to this exhibition substitutes gold fringe (she terms it “Israelite fringe”) for gold leaf to decorate the bottom of a dark rectangular oil painting that, with the added fringe, suggests the flattened-out mantle of a Torah scroll—that belongs to all Jews.
Goldie Gross is a Brooklyn-based artist whose work engages with themes of antisemitism and intercultural exchange. She frequently incorporates objects with relevance into her projects, working with traditional and borrowed-from-life materials like sofer’s parchment and ritual fringes. She received her BA in Art & Business from Baruch College and is currently pursuing her MA in Art History at the Institute of Fine Arts at NYU. View more of Goldie’s work on her website www.goldiegross.com.