Hannah Lupton Reinhard explores what it is to be a young Jewish woman in American society. Her colourful images examine the performative nature of her faith and how that fits into a cultural landscape obsessed with image and preconception.
Reinhard’s paintings are the physical manifestation of adolescent angst, performativity and embarrassment. What do we do when we feel these things? We tend to cover up and hide. Growing up as a kind of outsider, as different, Reinhard looks to encapsulate the intense physicality of these experiences not only in the depiction of her subjects, but likewise in the physicality of her art.
There is an over-the-top presentation to her work, the kind of superlativity that is reflective of her American society. America is intense, bright and similarly over-the-top. So is the life of an art student, something her mother Julia commented on as a space where Reinhard was able to understand her faith in this new context - with friends who don’t necessarily have the same worldview:
When she enrolled in the painting program at the Rhode Island School of Design, our daughter Hannah took Shabbat with her and recreated it on her own terms: as a weekly party for Jews and non-Jews, with lots of wine, or vodka, or whatever else was available, plus quirky art-school goblets, candle sticks, and figurines. These wild evenings became the subject of her paintings.
It’s this unique mixture that the young artist is able to capture, these moments where religious practice and the silent, daily rituals of contemporary life coalesce. It’s here that Reinhard is able to feel her way through her own place in religious and non-religious society. It’s also these spaces that manifest in her art as a mirror of her own insecurities.
Speaking about these moments, Reinhard said, “Through the depiction and repetition of ritual objects, I want my paintings to over-perform and exaggerate Jewish rituals, while simultaneously hiding their Jewishness, burying it in color, pattern, ornament, and femininity. The duality of hiding and performing my Jewishness is inherited from my ancestors and a long history of persecution, assimilation, and pride.”
The density and weight to her paintings, the palpable texture, makes Reinhard’s art feel like something that’s living. Each piece is an autobiographical fragment of moments in her life. They feel so intimate that they have a voyeuristic quality, the untainted chaos of real-life, unedited, unfiltered, captured with the bleary eyes and rose tint of memory.
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