Jônatas Chimen Dias DaSilva-Benayon: A Crypto-Jewish Artist from Brazil
ENGLISH CORNER, CON LINDA JIMÉNEZ – This week’s trivia question: Who was the only member of Jônatas’s family who openly spoke with him about the family being Jewish, and what did his other relatives tell him?
(NOTE: This is the third program in a three-part series about Crypto-Jews.)
Jônatas Chimen Dias DaSilva-Benayon is a Brazilian-American Symbolist artist, author, and academic. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies from The University of Madison-Wisconsin, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Florida International University. He has published articles on the Iberian Inquisition and the Sepharadic diaspora, a theme that underlies his work. He has also lectured at many conferences, and devotes a good deal of his time to philanthropic activities.
Embracing one’s cultural identity and disclosing personal beliefs is a recurring theme in Chimen’s art, in which he uses a wide range of techniques. His exploration of identity is often drawn from his own family’s history of forced conversions and survival in Spain and Portugal as crypto-Jews.
Since 2001 Jônatas’ work has been featured at numerous biennales, museums, art galleries, and auctions. In 2015, he was awarded the title of Artist of the Year by the Anti-Defamation League for his art series titled The Journey, which tells of Chimen’s first-hand experience of coming into the light of freedom after his family endured centuries of secretly sustaining a Crypto-Judaic heritage.
In this program Jônatas tells us the fascinating story of this personal journey, and how it has influenced his life and his work as an artist.