copyright2015Hope Sandrow

Early Influences

“I don’t believe in art. I believe in artists.” Marcel Duchamp installed (1952) “LARGE GLASS”:  at the Philadelphia Museum of Art where as a young girl Sandrow (born 1951) found a place in life engaged in the creative process. Making art reflecting life and the natural world a prism through which to live under the Holocaust’s shadow over a Camden Jewish ghetto amidst sibling’s deaths, molestation by her father’s father.


Later as a teen joining the emerging environmental movement in which Sandrow’s mother’s father Morris involved her through his participation (and nominated Sandrow as Miss Cleaner Air Week). Two years after this portrait was taken she was raped by the family doctor William Most:  why beginning at an early age, assault on her body linked to that on earth, air and water.


And it was Morris, his mother Frieda (her great grandmother) and her mother (her great great grandmother Rivele) who’s legacy of generosity and community engagement a model for Sandrow’s art and life. Rivele’s granddaughter (Frieda’s niece, Sandrow’s grandfather Morris’s first cousin) the renowned “Yiddish Troubadour” Aliza Greenblatt memorialized the family history in poems, essays. And letters: an excerpt from one written by Abraham Barmach (orphaned as a baby, left on Rivele’s doorstep whom she took in:

“If I were poetically inclined, I would sing her (Rivele) praises with beautiful poems. She is engraved in my heart. With her beautiful character, she has implanted goodness inside me. If I have done good to any one in my life, I owe it to your grandmother of blessed memory.” Rivele had implored family members to contribute monies for Abraham’s ticket to America. After settling in Philadelphia Abraham sent them monies to escape to the US including Sandrow’s great-grandparents Frieda and Tovah and their thirteen children (her grandfather Morris age 3). And Frieda subsequently sent tickets for many family members to escape too. Aliza’s daughter Marjorie, a Martha Graham dancer, who’s husband Woody Guthrie composed the 1940’s ballad “This Land is your Land” reflected the family belief and practice: that inspire, influence Sandrow’s art making and social practice. Sustained her as a teenager suffering domestic violence; rape. Gender discrimination, sexual harassment in art school (why she left before graduation) and throughout a professional career by powerful players. Why her work produced outside institutional and academic frameworks parallels life experiences investigating a culture of systemic abuse. With a promise of place influenced by Feminist (Ana Mendieta, Nancy Spero) and Earth (Nancy Holt, Robert Smithson) Artists.


Forty-eight years later the Equal Rights Amendment has not been adopted: passed by Congress on March 22, 1972 when Sandrow was in art school. Paralleling a struggle presenting art about subject matters that personally effect her and at least half the world population daily.