Award winning filmmaker Jonathan Gruber brings his documentary film Miriam Beerman: Expressing the Chaos, a retrospective of a remarkable artist whose personal demons and empathy for human suffering colored a lifetime of her work, to Monmouth University’s Pollak Theatre on Thursday, November 5 at 7 p.m. The film is free and open to the public. Q&A with Gruber immediately follows the screening.
In her more than 70 years as a groundbreaking artist, Miriam Beerman has overcome loss and tragedy to inspire friends, family, and fans about how to remain defiant, creative and strong. Miriam Beerman: Expressing the Chaos is the compelling retrospective documentary of her remarkable career that profiles an artist whose personal demons and empathy for human suffering colored a lifetime of her work. Beerman once said, “Much of my artistic life has been spent painting images which some find unpleasant or ugly, for the work is meant to reflect disturbing aspects of our time. How can one avoid seeing the worldʼs injustices? They weigh on my mind and body, very often leaving me in much physical as well as mental pain. So through my works I expel some of the evil.”
Beerman’s work portrays bestial characters who convey intense emotion. The work includes automatic gestures, vivid colors, and stippled textures that help evoke the feeling of devastation. Some of her themes include biblical plagues, the Holocaust, Hiroshima, and nuclear threat. In an interview for an exhibition brochure (Miriam Beerman: Witches, Demons & Metamorphoses, Montclair State College, 1987) Beerman emphatically stated, “There are some who feel they have to bear witness, and I happen to be one of them.” At 90 years old, Miriam now lives in a residence home near her family in Washington, D.C. Her memory is not what it once was, yet she is still generating compelling and forceful art. It’s one of the only things she is sure of. The film is a memorable profile of an artist who has elevated her empathy for the plight of the world’s castoffs into powerful portrayals of dignity.
Jonathan Gruber is the executive producer of Black Eye Productions, where he has been producing and directing award winning documentaries, films, videos and interactive media since 1995. His work has aired on PBS, The History Channel, the National Geographic Channel, and Discovery Channels. He has worked extensively in historical subjects, including Alexander the Great, Leonardo da Vinci, and the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima. His first feature documentary, Pola’s March, aired on public television stations across the United States, and received a distinguished Crystal Heart Award from the Heartland Film Festival. His second feature documentary film, Life is a Banquet: The Rosalind Russell Story, premiered at film festivals around the U.S. and has aired on PBS stations and on ABC/Australia. He is currently screening two feature documentaries: Jewish Soldiers in Blue & Gray, a first-of-its-kind film on the Jewish experience during the Civil War, as well as the award-winning Follow Me: the Yoni Netanyahu Story.
The event is sponsored by Monmouth University’s Center for the Arts, The Department of Communication, and the Gender Studies Program and is part of the “On Screen: In Person” film series, which brings six films and filmmakers to Monmouth University as part of a tour of the Eastern seaboard. On Screen: In Person is made possible by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation through the generous support of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Regional Touring Program.