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Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs

Apr 27, 2017–Sep 4, 2017

The CJM is pleased to present the only appearance of Roz Chast’s Cartoon Memoirs retrospective exhibition outside of New York and Massachusetts. Chast is one of the most celebrated and beloved cartoonists working in the United States today; she has been publishing with The New Yorker since 1978. Her 2014 graphic memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? deals with the difficult subject of caring for aging parents. It was a National Book Award finalist and won the National Book Critics’ Circle Award for Autobiography. Chast has said, “My parents’ lives were so interesting to me that I did not want to forget, and I eventually found myself developing a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Some of the stories that emerged were sort of hilarious, but also heartbreaking, and they became a record of my experience with them.”

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Roz Chast in conversation with Michael Krasny

The artist talks about her work with Michael Krasny during the Circle of Friends Opening Celebration and Special Program for Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs. Recorded on Apr 26, 2017.

about the exhibition

While Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? forms the basis of the exhibition (every one of the approximately 150 drawings in the original book will be on view), there is a great deal more: dozens of Chast’s original cartoons and covers for The New Yorker, as well as cartoon illustrations for her own and other writers’ books for both children and adults; rugs made by the artist; and personal material related to her parents. There will also be a video interview with the artist; a video of her at work on a life-sized mural; and a walk-in, life-sized recreation of one of her cartoons.

The exhibition was organized and debuted at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Massachusetts in June 2015, traveled to the Museum of the City of New York in 2016 and makes its Western debut at The CJM.


Want to know more? Join a public tour of the exhibition during your visit. Public tours are offered daily (except Wednesdays), no reservations necessary, and are available first-come, first-serve for twenty people. Have a larger group? Book a private, one-hour, customized guided tour of Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs. Access tours are also available for visitors with disabilities, and are customizable to the needs of your group.

gallery photos
about roz chast

Chast is a nationally respected Jewish artist whose work often touches on her family, parents, the ironies of everyday life, and Jewish psychology. Both of Chast’s parents were first generation children of Russian Jewish immigrants. She is not religious but has said, “On some deep level, I identify as a Jew. I don’t know exactly what that means. Maybe feeling a little bit like an outsider. And that no matter how much I assimilate, there will always be something about me that will not fit in.”

Her parents didn’t talk to her about religion. Her mother lit Shabbat candles later in her life and her father loved traditional Jewish food. Chast has also related her parents’ unwillingness to talk about death. She has said, “Between their one-bad-thing-after-another lives and the Depression and World War II, and the Holocaust, in which they’d both lost family—it was amazing that they weren’t crazier than they were. Who could blame them for not wanting to talk about death?”

Born in Brooklyn, she graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design. In addition to The New Yorker, her cartoons have appeared in numerous other publications including The Village Voice, Scientific American, the Harvard Business Review, and Mother Jones. Her book and artwork were also recognized with a Heinz Award for Arts and Humanities in 2015. 

image gallery
Death Over Dessert (A Comedy Show)

Storytellers Josh Kornbluth, Elizabeth Sale, and Sara Faith Alterman share deeply personal stories and experiences in a comedy show followed by a moderated discussion about caring for a loved one at the end of life. Co-presented by Reboot’s Death Over Dinner, Jewish Edition.


Roz Chast: Cartoon Memoirs is organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. 

Lead sponsorship of the exhibition at The Contemporary Jewish Museum is provided by Gaia Fund and the Bernard Osher Jewish Philanthropies Foundation. Major sponsorship is provided by Baird, Joyce B. Linker, Dorothy R. Saxe, and Wendy and Richard Yanowitch. Patron sponsorship is provided by Shana Nelson Middler and David Middler. Supporting sponsorship is provided by Judy and Robert Aptekar; Dana Corvin and Harris Weinberg; Nellie and Max Levchin; Siesel Maibach; Susan and Jay Mall, in memory of Alyne Salstone; Pacific Heights Plastic Surgery, Marilyn and Murry Waldman; and Howard and Barbara Wollner.  Media sponsorship by BARTable and The Wall Street Journal.

The Contemporary Jewish Museum’s exhibition program is supported by a grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Image Credit

Header image: Roz Chast, El, 2014. Illustration for 101 Two-Letter Words by Stephin Merritt. © Roz Chast. All rights reserved. Gallery photos: Duy Ho Photography.