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Book of Yona: An Interactive Art Project by Yona Verwer and Katarzyna Kozera

By Yona Verwer

Published Sep 23, 2022


Above: The Book of Yona 8, 24 x 36 inches, Acrylic paint and digital on canvas

The multimedia series grapples with issues of identity, upheaval, migration, renewal, and personal and collective encounters with Judaism as it charts two artists’ paths from old worlds to new. A play on Verwer’s first name and the Biblical figure of Jonah, “Book of Yona” transposes the Biblical whale to a submarine arriving in New York’s East River. It also serves as metaphor for immersion in the mikveh as part of Verwer’s conversion process 

In this time of upheaval the “Book of Yona” art series offers visions of renewal, and invites the viewer to experience uncharted approaches and encounters with Judaism. 


The Times of Israel, Oct 7, 2017: “a pivotal moment for Verwer as a Jew who converted from Catholicism and left her home in the Netherlands for New York. Her Jonah is in a submarine…and she takes that up another notch with augmented reality, having viewers use smartphone or tablets to hone in on a spot in the painting, which triggers a video embedded in the artwork, leading the viewer closer to the layered narrative.” 


View a simulation of the augmented reality effect here.  

Read more about the exhibition here. 

Above: The Book of Yona 12, 36 x 24 inches, Acrylic paint & digital on canvas

Above: The Book of Yona 6, 36 x 24 inches, Acrylic paint & digital on canvas + augmented reality


Dutch-born New York-based Yona Verwer holds a master’s degree in fine art from the Royal Academy in The Hague, Netherlands.Her artwork often exists within a historical framework or from a feminist or activist perspective, all through a Jewish lens. She is exploring the correspondence between spirituality and ecology in her...


Reflecting on forgiveness 

The biblical Jonah story is about second chances, forgiveness, and redemption. How willing are we to give others a second chance?  

Conversion in our community 

Proper treatment of the convert is mentioned thirty-six times in the Torah, more than any other commandment. Often it is the former stranger that has newly entered Jewish society who provides that new spark of innovativeness that powers Torah Judaism forward even more. Do we treat the convert as a full-fledged Jew, or do we subtly treat them as separate, for instance by referring to them as “converts”? 

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