Parisian Views of New York City

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Students in Dr. Rachel Mesch’s course Parisian Views at the opening reception on Friday, December 20, 2019 at the entrance to Pollack Library for their exhibition Parisian Views: Instagram Discoveries by Yeshiva College studentsStudents in Dr. Rachel Mesch’s course Parisian Views at the opening reception on Friday, December 20, 2019, at the entrance to Pollack Library for their exhibition “Parisian Views: Instagram Discoveries by Yeshiva College Students”

“Parisian Views: Instagram Discoveries by Yeshiva College Students” is the most recent installation in the second-floor Pollack Library gallery and will be up throughout the month of January.

Students in Dr. Rachel Mesch’s course Parisian Views learned about new approaches to art and literature that came about in 19-century Paris, when artists began to see the everyday life of their rapidly changing city as fodder for artistic creation.

Impressionists like Manet, Degas, Renoir and Caillebotte and writers like Baudelaire, Balzac and Zola depicted what they observed all around town—on the bustling boulevard, in newly constructed cafés and restaurants, in recently renovated parks and at the theater. They loved to capture life in motion and were very much influenced by the new technology of the camera.

In Parisian Views, students treated New York City as a similar source of inspiration and learned how to become artists of everyday life. With their private @parisianviews Instagram account this past fall semester, students tried to see through 19-century eyes in order to capture the unexpected beauty in the most seemingly mundane aspects of our city.

Some of these first-year students discovered New York City for the first time, while others found a brand-new perspective on a city that they have long considered home. From traffic and garbage to street signs and buildings, to moments of nature meeting the unforgiving concrete jungle, they captured the changing city with a new sense of wonder. Their photographs are alternately haunting and joyous, conveying their creative engagement with the neighborhoods that will be their stomping grounds for these next four years.

Group of men davening at NFL game at Metlife StadiumJoey Mogilner, “Gems in a Crowd”: “…This picture, taken on November 10th (11 Cheshvan), 2019, at Metlife Stadium, focuses on a few dozen Jews praying the Mincha Service during halftime of a National Football League game between the New York Jets and New York Giants….This beautiful service, dating back over three thousand years, was on full display in a tucked away corner in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on that Sunday afternoon…Similar to the paintings we studied from Edouard Manet, where we analyzed all the hidden features we can examine in a large, seemingly uniform crowd, in this picture, we can see this at work, where a small group provides much meaning in a big crowd.”

Students Elazar Abrahams, David Tanner, Josef Kahn, Hudi Aronovitz, Charlie Grill, Dovid Gelbtuch, Mayer Adelman, Seth Bodek, Asher Gritz, Ben Mankowitz, Joey Mogilner, and Raziel Siegman contributed their photographs to the exhibition.

(Special thanks to Paul Glassman, director of libraries, and Dr. Rachel Mesch, professor of English and French and chair of the Yeshiva College English Department, for their help with this article.)

Poster for the Parisian Views exhibit