ona Verwer, a multimedia artist based in New York, uses painting and interactive video installations to explore themes of borders, identity, transformations and the Jewish experience. Her art mirrors her life: A convert to Judaism who was born in the Netherlands, Verwer draws literally from her experience bridging universes to reﬂect on the nature of identity and the ﬂuidity of personal heritage.
Her most recent installation, in collaboration with Polish-born artist Katarzyna Kozera, culminates years of probing the passageways between cultures and continents. A play on her name and the Biblical ﬁgure of Jonah, “The Book of Yona” transposes the Biblical whale to a submarine charting the Atlantic and arriving in New York’s East River. The submergence of the submarine also serves as metaphor for immersion in the mikveh as part of the conversion process. The paintings are interactive, accompanied by images and videos accessible via smartphones to offer additional layers and gleanings that enhance the viewing experience: The artist as a toddler submerged in water and as an adult at a New York shoreline, interspersed with Hebrew passages from The book of Jonah. Taken together, the multimedia series grapples with issues of identity, upheaval, migration, renewal, and personal and collective encounters with Judaism as it charts two women’s paths from old worlds to