Chie Nishio, an 84-year-old photographer originally from Japan, spent large parts of the early 90s taking photographs of Chasidic life in Crown Heights. Two decades later, beginning today at 6:00pm and lasting through Feb. 1, 2015, she will be displaying 40 of these photographs in an open-to-the-public gallery at the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.
From DNA Info:
It was simple curiosity that brought Chie Nishio to Crown Heights in the early 1990s.
The longtime photographer came to Manhattan from Tokyo in 1969, moving near the Diamond District. There, she remembers seeing Orthodox Jewish men with “long beards and wearing the black hats.”
“I was always curious about them,” Nishio, 84, said.
When she married a non-observant Jew, she became even more interested in New York’s Jewish communities. She tried making contacts in Williamsburg to photograph the Orthodox community there, but had no luck. Then, a friend suggested visiting Crown Heights where, she was told, the Chabad-Lubavitch community was “more open to outsiders.”
What resulted was a yearslong photography project documenting the lives of Crown Heights’ Hasidim in the early and mid-’90s. Nishio photographed everything from children playing in the street to formal religious ceremonies led by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
“For me, everything important, I took a photograph [of it] because that is part of their life,” Nishio said.