Plan your visit to The CJM!
Press Release

The Contemporary Jewish Museum Announces Marilyn Yolles Waldman Distinguished Speaker Series

Inaugural event to feature Lynn Hershman Leeson in conversation with Natasha Boas

Thursday, November 16, 2023 (San Francisco, CA) — The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) is pleased to announce the Marilyn Yolles Waldman Distinguished Speaker Series, which will launch in January 2024. The lecture series is made possible by an endowed fund dedicated to supporting an annual lecture illuminating the achievements of Jewish artists and thinkers in the public sphere who make significant contributions to excellence in art and culture. The inaugural lecture of the Marilyn Yolles Waldman Distinguished Speaker Series will feature Bay Area artist Lynn Hershman Leeson in conversation with independent curator Natasha Boas. The conversation will take place on January 7 at 3:00pm.

“We are thrilled to announce this annual lecture series, which provides another critical way for The Contemporary Jewish Museum to support the work and elevate the voices of contemporary Jewish artists,” said Gravity Goldberg, CJM Director of Public Programs and Visitor Experience. “Lynn Hershman Leeson is a beloved and boundary-pushing artist whose work perfectly reflects the vision of this series. We are excited to create a platform to discuss her work at The CJM.”

Lynn Hershman Leeson is a visionary artist whose films, sculpture, and media art anticipated the digital revolution and the prevalence of AI-generated technology. Her work often blurs the lines between reality and fiction, reflecting the ambiguity and complexity of women’s lives in a digital world. By engaging with themes of surveillance, identity, an expanded discourse of feminisms, and the power dynamics within technology, Hershman Leeson offers a unique perspective on how artists navigate a world that is increasingly shaped by virtual interactions and surveillance technologies.

“The Contemporary Jewish Museum is an essential space for promoting Jewish artistic voices,” said CJM Trustee Marilyn Yolles Waldman, in whose honor the fund was named. “In thinking about a meaningful way to support The Museum it was clear to me that providing a platform for artists to speak, and creating a public space for dialogue would be a gift that would touch many people. Lynn Hershman Leeson is a seminal Bay Area artist, and the perfect person to inaugurate this new series of talks.”

For the inaugural lecture of the Marilyn Yolles Waldman Distinguished Speaker Series, Lynn Hershman Leeson will be joined by celebrated curator Natasha Boas to explore how Hershman Leeson’s work routinely examines our relationship with technology, addressing both its potential to empower women and the dangers it poses when misused or commodified—and ultimately challenges us to consider the ways in which we can create a more inclusive and equitable digital landscape.

Each year, The CJM will present a lecture with an artist whose work reflects the issues and ideas relevant to the contemporary moment.

About Marilyn Yolles Waldman

Marilyn Yolles Waldman is a Contemporary Jewish Museum founder, and a member of The CJM’s Board of Trustees since January 2015. Waldman began her career teaching junior high social studies in Cleveland, Ohio and Berkeley, California.  Later she was a freelance writer doing feature stories for magazines and newspapers. She became the Associate Director of the Northern California American Israel Public Affairs Committee office, where she was a lobbyist. For the next seven years she worked at the Jewish Vocational Service, creating the émigré jobs project, and then became the Jewish Vocational Services Director of Employer Services.

Waldman co-founded the San Francisco Library’s One City One Book program. She has served on the boards of the Jewish Community Federation, Mt. Zion Hospital (becoming chairperson), and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, where she chaired two literary conferences.  She received a BA from the University of Michigan, an MS in organizational behavior from the California School of Professional Psychology and attended the Mass Media Institute at Stanford.

About The Contemporary Jewish Museum

For over thirty years The CJM has engaged audiences and artists in exploring contemporary perspectives on Jewish culture, history, art, and ideas. In 2008, The Museum opened a new building designed by internationally renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, providing a lively center where people of all ages and backgrounds can gather to experience art, share diverse perspectives, and engage in educational activities. Inspired by the Hebrew phrase l’chaim (“to life”), the building is a physical embodiment of The CJM’s mission to bring together tradition and innovation in an exploration of the Jewish experience in the twenty-first century.

Major support for The Contemporary Jewish Museum is generously provided by Bank of America; California Arts Council; Gaia Fund; Grants for the Arts; William Randolph Hearst Foundation; The Bernard Osher Foundation; John Pritzker Family Fund; Randee Seiger; Susanna and Michael Steinberg; and Taube Philanthropies.

Major support for The CJM Helen Diller Institute is generously provided by The Helen Diller Family Foundation.

Press Contacts

Abby Margulies

Public Relations

Taylor Shoolery

Director of Marketing and Communications