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Illustrating The Days After October 7 

Israeli illustrator Zeev Engelmayer uses the simplest of materials to share pain and hope.

By Jewish Arts Collaborative

Published May 16, 2024

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In 2005, Zeev Engelmayer illustrated the playful colorful Shoshke character. In 2016, Zeev created a Shoshke costume for a book launch, and the persona of Shoshke rose to become a larger-than-life force in Israeli society. According to Marker Magazine, in 2023 Shoshke was one of the 100 most influential people in Israel. 

When the events of October 7 happened, Zeev didn’t stop making art – but he paused his Shoshke alter ego work and turned to drawing postcards. Sitting at his Tel Aviv apartment kitchen table, every day he has spent 1-7 drawing and processing the war around him. For the first week, all the cards were black and white, but shortly color re-emerged. When asked how he can use such bright colors and comedy in this moment, Zeev says this is what his artistic practice has always been. 

Zeev told the Times of Israel, “In these postcards, although the subject matter is heart-wrenching—children being held hostage or returning home to their parents, civilians with their arms raised at gunpoint—I find this activity soothing. It’s thinking about it and being in the situation, but in some other way than watching the news all day. I want to express feelings and horror – a protest against violence and brutality of war, wherever it takes place.” 

While bright and eye-catching at first pass, what’s striking about these postcards is that they aren’t as childlike and free as they present. A majority of the works are tributes to the Israeli hostages, showing a fantasy image of what they would return to if free – parasailing, cheese making, dancing, and other images that share a sense of who these people are. 

Fourteen of Zeev’s postcard works are on display at the Newton Free Library for the month of May, shown in dialogue with black and white photographs by Cambridge-based photographer Skip Schiel that show a first-hand account of life in the West Bank. 

The curators of this show hope that by featuring these two artistic voices side by side, each bearing witness to the moment we are living in, there will be space for dialogue, introspection, and healing. 

Here are the images that are featured in this show: 

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