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Indepth Arts News:

"Witness and Legacy: Contemporary Art about the Holocaust"
2001-10-06 until 2001-01-13
Frye Art Museum
Seattle, WA, USA

Until recently, the Holocaust has been a subject largely neglected, even in the visual arts. But during the last three decades, a growing number of American artists have begun a quest to preserve the memory of the Holocaust in a variety of forms. Witness and Legacy, a major exhibition of recent Holocaust art by 23 American artists, explores the linkages between the Holocaust and artistic creativity.

Organized by historian Stephen Feinstein and Minnesota Museum of American Art curator Paul Spencer, Witness and Legacy is a national touring exhibition of work by contemporary American artists who address one of humanitys deepest tragedies: the Nazi-led systematic murder and oppression of the Jewish people. Some of the artists in the exhibition are survivors, and some are the second generation. Their statements take on a variety of media including: multimedia installation art, painting, sculpture, photography, graphic design, and needlepoint, and address a variety of Holocaust-related themes. Comprised of 63 works, the exhibition touches many issues that remain critical to contemporary society, and demonstrates that art can be a powerful vehicle not only for personal expression, but also for increasing global awareness and remembrance.

It is our intention with Witness and Legacy to announce a contemporary movement, the phenomenon of American artists of various experimental perspectives, using various strategies, working today to bring the Holocaust into our cultural dialogue. says Spencer.

Artists such as Judith Goldstein, Samuel Bak, Kitty Klaidman and Netty Vanderpol experienced the terror of the ghettos and the death camps. Their art is somewhere between visual memoir and metaphoric memory. Coming to the United States as children just before the war, first generation survivor artists such as Gabrielle Rossmer and Gerda Meyer-Bernstein carry with them some of the burdens and trauma from their parents ordeals. For many members of the second generation, art and literature are mediums for expressing their special relationship to the Holocaust and to their parents.

As the twentieth century closes, there is more and more of a burden and an increasing urgency to tell the story. The generation of witnesses is passing. All that will be left is the legacy. Within the realm of art, that Holocaust era may just be emerging. Witness and Legacy marks the beginning process of investigating the Holocaust, offering vital lessons in memory and mortality for future generations, and offers the hope that human passion and creativity can help stave off horrific repetitions of history.

The Regis Foundation supports the national tour of this exhibition, and its accompanying catalogue. The Frye Art Museum is the final venue for Witness and Legacy which has toured nationally for seven years.

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