Brenda Zlamany 100/100

Derfner Judaica Museum + The Art Collection at Hebrew Home at Riverdale is pleased to present BRENDA ZLAMANY: 100/100, on display through January 7th 2018.


Brenda Zlamany: 100/100 features 100 watercolor portraits of residents of the Hebrew Home at Riverdale and is part of the artist’s ongoing “Itinerant Portraitist” project. In this project Zlamany explores the constructive effects of portraiture in communities around the globe. Previous chapters of the “Itinerant Portraitist” include the Fulbright funded 888: Creating a Portrait of Taiwanese Aboriginals and a project involving the diverse population of the UAE. 100/100 is the second US location of the “Itinerant Portraitist” and was created over several weeks in residence at the Hebrew Home. Each version of the project features a different demographic. “With 100/100, I am interested in aging,” Zlamany explains. “What is important at the end of life? In the face of loss: loss of loved ones, mobility, senses, taste, hearing, sight…Is there still the possibility of joy? The role of memory. What experiences from the past fuel happiness?”


Borrowing strategies from traditional watercolor, conceptual art, and performance art, she embraces the collaborative nature of the portrait process. “Portraiture from observation is a specific form of communication,” claims Zlamany. The Home’s residents, some of whom are over 100 years old, watch as Zlamany captures their image and guide her both consciously and unconsciously. Often, these collaborations lead to revelations from the sitters, even in situations where a sitter can no longer communicate verbally. “When I paint them I can see their thoughts about the portrait on their face,” she reflects. “For instance, I’ll load a brush with red and as it hits the paper, a subject’s eyes will go to the red on her shirt and suddenly there will be the slightest smile of recognition. This might be the first indication that a post verbal subject is involved in the process and I find this communication very moving.”


Following in the tradition of the early modern era, sitters arrived dressed up for the occasion much as patrons would have more than a century ago at the studio of portrait painters like John Singer Sargent. To be painted was not only flattering but provided time set aside to share their stories. Those private moments are hinted at in the portraits, which convey to exhibition visitors a glimpse of the beauty and wisdom that comes with age.


100/100 is a talking project, a performance, and stories are at the heart of it. As Zlamany points out: “It’s as much about the experience as it is about the watercolor. I attempt to see someone. Who are they? They reveal themselves, but they also see me seeing them. Thus, I reveal myself to the subject. This takes place over an hour of extreme focus. The subject guides me. Sometimes we sit in silence; other times great secrets are divulged. I may coax them, but they decide. Sometimes I’m the one telling the secrets. The image, built up slowly, stroke by stroke, is evidence of a two-way exchange. Often, I’ll make big changes as I get to know the subject, perhaps add a slight smile in the end after a good laugh is shared.”



SUN-THURS, 10:30 AM – 4:30 PM

01:30 PM – 03:00 PM

About the artist
Brenda Zlamany is a painter who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Since 1982 her work has appeared in over a dozen solo exhibitions and many group shows in the US, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Museums that have exhibited her work include the Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei; the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; the National Museum, Gdansk, Poland, and Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Ghent, Belgium. Her work has been reviewed in ARTFORUM, Art in America, Flash Art, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and elsewhere, and is held in the collections of the Cincinnati Art Museum; Deutsche Bank; the Museum of Modern Art, Houston; the Neuberger Museum of Art; the Virginia Museum of Fine Art; the World Bank, and Yale University Art Gallery. Zlamany has collaborated with authors and editors of the New York Times Magazine on several commissions, including an image of Marian Anderson for an article by Jessye Norman and one of Osama bin Laden for the September 11, 2005, cover. Grants she has received include a Fulbright Fellowship (2011), a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant (2006–07) and a NYFA Grant in Painting (1994).


This exhibition is accompanied by a 38 page catalogue Brenda Zlamany: 100/100, Essays by David Ebony and Alan Zweibel

Start Date

October 15, 2017

End Date

January 7, 2018


10:30 AM - 04:30 PM


5901 Palisade Ave, Bronx, NY 10471

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