‘Shmattes’ At Brown RISD Hillel

Jews are funny . . . who knew? “Shmattes” an exhibition that explores the issue of cultural Jewish identity through t-shirts is up now through September 28th. Certainly a great way to greet the incoming students, but locals are welcome as well.

These t-shirts have been acquired from all over the contemporary Jewish world– eBay auctions, bat and bar mitzvahs, youth conferences, independent visual artists, among many other sources. The project’s goal is to “track” through these t-shirts the ways in which individuals and institutions deal with the question of Jewish identity when that identity is not about religion. Since t-shirts are inexpensive to make and sell and offer limitless possibilities for design, these items provide an exceptionally good look at how people define their Jewish identity.

I’ll leave the cultural analysis to the experts, mostly this t-shirt collection is just plain fun. And I kept checking labels to look up later (can not find that yellow “shiksa” tee!). Most of the shirts seem to be out of print. I also can not find the Big Lebowski and Wu-Tang tees below. One exception is Jewnion Label (excellent graphics that will, however, have people looking very very closely at your chest/boobs).

The organizers have a simple mission: “Ultimately, Shmattes aims to provide a visual and tactile launch pad for conversations about cultural Jewish identity through the display of these t-shirts.”

Meet curator Anne Grant at the opening reception 7pm, Tuesday, September 9th.

Open to the public, runs through September 28th, Brown RISD Hillel, 80 Brown Street (corner of Angell)






lebowski shabbos tee

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