Oral Interview with Phyllis Serota for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Daniella Givon via remote Zoom call. Phyllis talks about her upbringing in inner city Chicago, Illinois and her relationship with both her immediate and extended family who lived in the same neighborhood. She speaks about her religious and secular education leading to being an artist, including her discovery of art when going to art classes at the Chicago Art Institute, and at the University of Victoria. Phyllis and her family relocated to Victoria due to the political climate of later 1960s America. Phyllis discusses her career as a painter including her painting style, her way of selling art, and painters who inspired her. She talks about her life in Victoria, and how her wife, place of residence, and institutions inspired her work. She closes with the importance of her place in the queer community, and the acceptance of her queer identity in the Jewish community.
Oral Interview with Carla Stein for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Daniella Givon via remote Zoom call. Carla discusses how her uncle’s career as a professional painter and illustrator helped to mentor her in arts at a young age, alongside classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. She discussed attending post-secondary for a diploma in Fine Art and a Masters degree in education, but working in journalism and counseling before becoming a professional artist. Carla explains how she retired from these professions to pursue art full time, which includes currently illustrating her own and others’ poetry. Carla speaks about the flexibility of her work, and allowing words on a page, or pieces to speak to and guide her through the process of their creation intuitively. She discusses how she is motivated to make art by issues that are important to her and the world around her, and highlights memories of her first art show and a prominent commission that she is proud of. Carla speaks about the importance of colour and composition in her work, and how never giving up is one of the most important pieces of wisdom she could offer.
Oral Interview with Jessica Freedman for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Daniella Givon via remote Zoom call. Jessica was born in Montreal, but recalls moving around as a child to Israel and back to Canada where she grew up in Calgary. She explains immediate family history which included her mother who was a professional actor, and her father and brother who are musicians. She was primarily introduced to the arts through dance and music, though eventually was trained in visual arts at Simon Fraser University. She describes her different careers as a dancer, choreographer, accountant and yoga studio owner and instructor, but pursued arts full time after quitting her job to take care of her mother who was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Jessica explains how her painting style transitioned from realism to more expressive abstracts over time, and how she is inspired by emotions and colour. She also discusses how she is motivated by nature and chaos, collaborating on commissions, and the Jewish concept of tikkun olam, having her art contribute as a light to the world.
Oral Interview with Janis Diner-Brinley for the JMABC Artists Scribe. Interviewed by Brynn Gillies. Janis briefly describes her family history in Eastern Europe and Canada, and tells us of her immediate family. She discusses how she was immersed in artistic environments from a young age including parents who enjoyed the arts at home, and taking art classes as young as 6 years old. Janis recalls being the only girl to learn welding in school for her sculpture projects and working with the Winnipeg Art Gallery. She talks about how she uses traditional mediums like watercolours to convey messages about environment and landscape change, and how she learned to work with and teach watercolours to others. Janis talks about how her move from Winnipeg to Vancouver to Victoria challenged her, as the colour palettes and landscapes were not the same as those she usually painted. She talks about art classes, and what brought her into teaching high school, but also feats of curating exhibitions and starting the Jewish Film Festival in Vancouver. Janis also talks about participating in Judaism themed exhibits at her synagogue, her interest in archaeology, and the power of observation.
Interview with Susan Dempsey for On The Record: The BC Jewish Queer & Trans Oral History Project in collaboration with JQT Vancouver. Interviewed by Carmel Tanaka via remote Zoom video call. Susan (she/her) is a Jewish woman, born in St. Catharines, ON and living in Victoria. She identifies with the lesbian community, but confides the idea of a sexuality without boundaries is something she’s getting more used to. Susan shares about her parents’ and their respective upbringings and livelihoods as mostly assimilated Jews in Chicago and Toronto or Southern Ontario. She talks about chosen family like her klezmer bandmates in the Klezbians, coming out to her family, and when she realized herself that she was a lesbian. She reflects on her childhood and growing up aware of political events like the JFK assassination. She talks about eventually finding the field of psychology, studying in St. Catharines, working in peer counseling initiatives and non-profits. Susan talks about relationships and reconnecting to the Jewish community through feminist and/or lesbian Seders after negative experiences and ambivalence. She talks about the Klezbians and feeling valued to queer and Jewish communities, wondering about the place for young people in current Jewish community, and wishing she was more proud to be Jewish and out throughout her life.
Interview with Lauren Nackman for On The Record: The BC Jewish Queer & Trans Oral History Project in collaboration with JQT Vancouver. Interviewed by Carmel Tanaka via remote Zoom video call. Lauren (she/her) is a Jewish lesbian, born in Middletown, NY, and residing in Victoria, BC. Lauren retraces her family history from Eastern Europe to the Bronx in New York, and touches on the intergenerational legacies of immigrant life seen in her parents and grandparents. She talks about her siblings and memories of coming out. Lauren recalls going to university in Virginia where she realized she was gay in a place not safe to be openly out, prompting her to co-found a group for lesbians on campus. Lauren talks about moving to Oakland with her then-girlfriend, and working with a women’s need clinic, attempting teachers college, but ending up in LA working in the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center which introduced her to gay activism. She talks about attempting to reclaim Judaism multiple times but not being inspired by the services and experiencing financial barriers to participating. She talks about moving to BC, and becoming active in lesbian Seders where the Klezbians were formed. She talks about marrying her partner Michelle when they moved to Canada. She talks about her parents growth in acceptance of her being gay. She talks about being thankful to be part of a history that aided present-day queer acceptance and closes with reflections on queer and Jewish community.
Interview with Julie Elizabeth for On The Record: The BC Jewish Queer & Trans Oral History Project in collaboration with JQT Vancouver. Interviewed by Carmel Tanaka via remote Zoom video call. Julie (she/her) talks about her involvement in community organizing, including her time with Victoria Lesbian Senior Care Society or VLSCS.
Part 2 of interview with Reva Hutkin for On The Record: The BC Jewish Queer & Trans Oral History Project in collaboration with JQT Vancouver. Interviewed by Carmel Tanaka via remote Zoom video call. Reva talks about her involvement in a Jewish LGBTQ+ group called HaChud, which was a group active out of Temple Sholom in Vancouver during the late 1970s.
Interview with Aaron Devor as part of the BC Jewish Queer & Trans Oral History Project, in collaboration with JQT Vancouver. Aaron shares his experience being both transgender and Jewish in BC. He also discusses his earlier experiences as a lesbian in the Jewish community, prior to transitioning. He experienced both friction and support. Aaron discusses leaving the Jewish community early in life because he felt there was no place for him as a woman. He returned later in life. He talks about same-sex marriage in the Jewish community, and shares stories about his transitioning ceremony. Aaron discusses anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic sentiments in the LGBTQ+ community. He talks about his career in academic, including his current position as chair of transgender studies at UVic.
Interview with Julie Elizabeth for On The Record: The BC Jewish Queer & Trans Oral History Project in collaboration with JQT Vancouver. Interviewed by Carmel Tanaka via remote Zoom video call. In part 1, Julie shares her experience being both bisexual/lesbian and Jewish in Canada. She discusses feeling accepted in both the Jewish and LGBTQ+ communities. In part 2, Julie talks about her involvement in the Victoria Lesbian Senior Care Society.
More detailed summaries are provided on the respective Part 1 and Part 2 pages nested herein.