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Visiting artist Silvina Frydlewsky talks to students in a documentary photography class about their work.
Visiting artist Silvina Frydlewsky talks to students in a documentary photography class about their work.

Photos connect cultures

Photos by Evan Krape and courtesy of Silvina Frydlewsky

Visiting artist shares her work with UD students, community

Photojournalist Silvina Frydlewsky, whose work showcases life in her native Argentina with a special focus on the Jewish community there, said she sees herself as both a witness and a participant.

“She is at once an insider and outsider, an observer and a critic,” according to the poster that introduces an exhibit of her work at the University of Delaware, where she was recently a visiting artist-in-residence. “These images reveal a cross-section of Argentina today, embedding the viewer in a dynamic and complex people and culture.”

The exhibit of photographs, curated and produced by Priscilla Smith, associate professor of art and design, is now on view in the atrium of UD’s Tower at STAR, where it will remain through early April.

Earlier this semester, Frydlewsky brought her perspective as a journalist whose own life is rooted in the culture of Argentina and its Jewish community to UD as part of the International Artist in Residence program in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Photojournalist Silvina Frydlewsky’s work includes photos of Jewish gauchos and farmworkers in a rural Argentine community.
Photojournalist Silvina Frydlewsky’s work includes photos of Jewish gauchos and farmworkers in a rural Argentine community.

She spent four weeks sharing her work and her experiences with students and with the broader UD and Delaware communities, visiting a variety of classes on campus and exhibiting her work at the Siegel Jewish Community Center (JCC) near Wilmington.

“Each day I’ve been here has been something special,” Frydlewsky said at the end of her residency. “I really feel honored if I can show people the stories — and the faces — of my country and my community.”

She especially enjoyed visiting UD classes, she said, discussing work done by photography students and sharing her insights with those in classes such as women and gender studies, Jewish studies and Latin American studies.

“Communities connect all over the world,” she said. “And I find that people have the same kinds of stories about their families, their cultures and their history.

“Anything I can say to help anybody understand the other side of the world is valuable.”

Silvina Frydlewsky’s work often focuses on the Jewish community of Buenos Aires, such as this scene of a worship service in a small synagogue.
Silvina Frydlewsky’s work often focuses on the Jewish community of Buenos Aires, such as this scene of a worship service in a small synagogue.

The international artist program has that same kind of focus, said Colin Miller, director of global arts and faculty director of the African Studies Program at UD.

“My approach is to emphasize interdisciplinary engagement,” Miller said. “Instead of having a visiting artist come to campus, do one talk or one program and then leave, I wanted to include more interactions and more collaboration with different departments and colleges and the community.

“Silvina was a great choice for the program because she was eager to work with anyone who wanted to connect.”

Frydlewsky had worked in the past with Cynthia Schmidt-Cruz, associate professor of languages, literatures and cultures and director of the Center for Global and Area Studies, who suggested her to Miller for the artist-in-residence program.

In addition to that program of global arts, her talks and exhibits in Delaware were supported by the English Language Institute, Center for Global and Area Studies, College of Arts and Sciences and the Frank and Yetta Chaiken Center for Jewish Studies at UD, the Jewish Community Relations Committee of Delaware and ArtSpace at Siegel JCC.

UD student Jack Fitzharris talks with Frydlewsky about photos he took at a local high school for a project documenting a day in the working life of a high school principal.
UD student Jack Fitzharris talks with Silvina Frydlewsky about photos he took at a local high school for a project documenting a day in the working life of a high school principal.

Although her residency has ended, the exhibition of her work at the Tower at STAR atrium on the University’s STAR campus, is open to the public. The works there span much of her work as a photojournalist, covering such topics as Argentine arts and culture, politics and protest, shantytowns and the rural province of Entre Rios.

A particular focus is “The Last Jewish Gaucho,” images of the life of the late Jaime Jruz, who worked the land in his Entre Rios village, a community founded by Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe in the 1890s. The project began as a feature story in collaboration with the Washington Post; Frydlewsky later returned on her own to continue her profile of Jruz and of the vanishing lifestyle of Jewish gauchos.

The Global Arts program, which has brought visual artists, musicians, dancers and storytellers from around the world to UD and the nearby community in recent years, plans to continue next academic year with artists visiting during fall and spring semesters.

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