The Jewish press has a long and proud history of publishing cartoons that offer cutting commentary on our world and satirize the actions of the powerful — even its own. Abraham Cahan, the legendary editor of the Forward, was the subject of sometimes brutal depictions by the artists of his day, who in a few brushstrokes could voice a damning assessment of whatever was haunting the Jewish community at the time.
The Forward has continued that tradition, publishing the work of Art Spiegelman and Ben Katchor, among others. In that spirit, we are pleased to announce that Eli Valley will be the Forward’s artist in residence for 2011-2012.
Eli’s work has appeared on our pages for several years now, where readers have met such hilarious characters as Abe Foxworthy, Bucky Shvitz and Stuart the Turtle, and in Eli’s latest offering, the modern-day renditions of the Haggadah’s Four Sons.
The artist-in-residence program is intended to nurture talented young and emerging artists who will explore Jewish themes and identity in a variety of media. Last year’s artist in residence, Jeremiah Lockwood, produced a fascinating series of interpretations of nigunim, wordless songs, with a variety of musicians and musical expressions.
Eli will spend the year drawing more of his biting, brilliant cartoons and participating in programming with Forward staffers. His work is provocative and sometimes infuriating — Commentary called him “ferociously repugnant,” which I expect he takes as a compliment. His elaborately drawn, meticulously researched pieces hold an unsparing mirror before our community, allowing us to pierce hypocrisy and silliness, toward a better understanding of the Jewish condition in America today.
It’s going to be a fun ride.
— JANE EISNER