Visiting Exhibit: Debra Olin, EVERY PROTECTION: Exploring Pregnancy and Childbirth in the Jewish Pale of Settlement

Large-format monoprint collages. On view through March 19 at the Yiddish Book Center.

In large-format monoprint collages, Debra Olin explores an important stage in the lives of Jewish women in the Russian Pale of Settlement. Olin’s work draws on the 1912–1914 ethnographic questionnaire produced by the famous playwright S. An-sky. Before the outbreak of World War II, An-sky became interested in ethnography and headed expeditions to various Jewish towns, composing a detailed ethnographic questionnaire of more than 2,000 questions in hopes of documenting every stage of Jewish life from before birth to after death. Olin focuses on An-sky’s questions relating to pregnancy and childbirth, highlighting superstitions, precautions, and religious practices that can be translated, recognized, and appreciated by people from every culture. 

About the Artist

Debra Olin is a printmaker living and working in Somerville, MA. She received her MFA from Massachusetts College of Art in 1980. Olin has shown in exhibitions across the United States, Canada, France, Poland, Serbia, South Africa, and Cuba. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Boston Public Library, Temple Israel (Brookline, MA), YIVO Institute (NYC), The DeCordova Museum (Lincoln, MA), and the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University. In 2004 Debra was awarded the Rappaport Prize, the largest public annual award to an individual artist in New England. In 2018 Olin received a Massachusetts Cultural Council Finalist Award and a grant from the Berkshire Taconic Artist Resource Trust. 

EVERY PROTECTION: Exploring Pregnancy and Childbirth in the Jewish Pale of Settlement originated at the Museum at Eldridge Street, New York, NY, and is now on view in the Yiddish Book Center’s Brechner Gallery through Sunday, March 19, 2023. Plan your visit today.