How Antisemitism Led Me to Art
Hi, welcome! My name is Alex Woz, I'm 24 years old, and live in southern California. I've been creating art since before I can even remember- as the child of an immigrant mother who had to shelve her dreams of becoming an esteemed artist and fashion designer, I was wholesomely encouraged by her to study art and become completely immersed in the practice. It wasn't until I got older that I started to experience antisemitism- not only through lone incidents of vulgarity, but alarmingly from people I had considered friends for years. As children, we aren't keen to perceive major differences between us and our peers, however, as I grew older in a public educational system, these apparent differences became glaring to others.
I began to experience antisemitism from my classmates in the form of vandalism, thinly veiled "jokes", and abuse hurled toward my parents as they came to pick me up from school. It was like everything changed overnight- people who I once laughed and joked around with after school seemed to obsess over this one facet of my identity. It can be a lot to process as a child. I was one of the only Jewish kids at my highschool- and I was made sure to know that. Swastikas were drawn onto my belongings constantly, and my physical features were the source of ridicule. At the time, I wished I had something to empower me and remind me of the strength that lie in my identity.
Which leads me to my current journey- to create art that will empower and embolden the next generation of Jewish youth, no matter where they are, to shed harmful notions about themselves and their community that have been internalized for so long. My mission is to expose these internalizations through art, and replace them with higher representation, and images accompanied by messages of self love, respect, and a deeper appreciation for who they are and where they come from. I won't stop until my goal is accomplished- however, even one person or child positively impacted affirms my mission to the millionth degree.