This Jewish Artist Examines the World’s Biggest Problems — With Flowcharts

Rachel Schragis has grappled with Occupy Wall Street, Amazon, and climate change. Now, she's taken on antisemitism.

By Chloe Sarbib

You may have encountered Rachel Schragis’ art without knowing it: on lifted cardboard boxes at anti-Amazon protests in NYC, at the People’s Climate March, in Zuccotti Park at the height of the Occupy Wall Street movement. That last piece, a flowchart with the heading “All of Our Grievances Are Connected,” now belongs to the Met. It was the first iteration of what has become her signature — complex charts of words and images that present struggles of our time.

Schragis, who is Jewish, took on antisemitism as her latest visual translation challenge. “Unraveling Antisemitism,” made in partnership with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), differs from much of Schragis’ work in that it didn’t originate in the streets. But like all the art in which she participates, it grew out of deep collaboration — a 40-page pamphlet on the subject by JFREJ, community interviews, illustrations by Rebecca Katz, and long group discussions. And she wants people to know that.

“Culturally, we really want to look at one person as the protagonist,” she told me. “It was a revelation for me that I had to unlearn the idea that my creative expression was the center of the goal. The more I learn that, the better work I do.”

I spoke to Schragis about making art in the service of change, her relationship to her Jewish identity, and how the Talmud is a flowchart.

The interview has been lightly condensed and edited for clarity. Read it on the Hey Alma website.