Relations between Jewish Americans and African Americans have always had a unique, complex character. Both groups have long been considered outsiders in mainstream American society, sharing a history in which both their physical appearance and moral attributes were denigrated. African Americans have drawn parallels between their situation in the United States and the Jews' struggles for freedom when they were slaves in Egypt. Jewish Americans have often become involved in the black cause through their interest in social issues and association with liberal politics.
Mutual Reflections is the first book to examine this many-layered relationship through its visual dimension. Milly Heyd investigates how artists of both backgrounds have viewed each other during the last hundred years-how the visual languages and the-matic choices of their art have reflected changing concerns from symbiosis to disillusionment. She explores a wide range of artistic mediums: painting, sculpture, cartoons, comic strips, and installations. Interviews with artists provide additional insight. The post modern discourse poses questions problematizing ethnic and racial stereotyping.
As Heyd states, when an artist of one group investigates the other group, that person is embarking on a journey of self-discovery. And while that journey can lead to disillusionment and criticism, the artist's vision-and final work of art-very often can help put all of us on our own paths of self-discovery.