ARTIST’S STATEMENT by Miriam Brysk I have recently published my memoir “Amidst the Shadowsof Trees”, depicting my childhood in the Lida ghetto and in thepartisans. Dealing with the pain and emotions of my ownchildhood experiences led me to consider the plight of the oneand a half million Jewish children who had not survived. Ithought of their disrupted rites of passage as beloved sons anddaughters of extended Jewish families, and their ultimate anduntimely deaths in Nazi-designated killing places. The idea fora new art series began to emerge; I would focus on depictingthe children who died, in the context of what they are likelyto have experienced. One of the rites of passage from childhood to adulthood isthe Bar/Bat Mitzvah at age thirteen. At that event, childrentraditionally receive a tallis/tallit (prayer shawl) from theirparents. Most of the Jewish children who died in theHolocaust, however, were too young to ever have had a BarMitzvah, or to ever have worn a tallit. I, therefore, used theimagery of the tallit to frame each piece. Each child iscontained within his own tallit, the one he never received, as agift of remembrance from me. To preserve historicauthenticity, each image depicts a real child victim of theShoah; the caption tells the city he was from and the placewhere he was likely to have died. My life, like my art, has been strongly influenced by mychildhood experiences surviving the Nazi Holocaust. Myartistic interest in the Holocaust was fueled by a visit in 2002to the ghettos and camps of Eastern Europe. Throughout thetrip, images of my lost family were creeping back into myconsciousness, while childhood fears reemerged as frighteningnightmares. My entire being was shaking in horror as I sobbedfor my own lost family and the six million of my people whohad so inhumanely and painfully perished. I felt a deep innerneed to portray their suffering. I wanted to express thesefeelings through art. This resulted in the images portrayed inmy first Holocaust art exhibit – “In a Confined Silence”, fortypieces depicting the plight of my family and the other Jewsduring the Shoah. This body of work has received rave reviewsand has been nationally exhibited in Holocaust Museums,Municipal Art Centers and Jewish Community Centers. Threeof the pieces from this exhibit have been accepted into thepermanent collection of the Yad Vashem.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE EXHIBIT• All the are 16" x 24", exclusive of the tzitzit, which add another 13" to the length. They are hung by a small chain which is attached to them at the upper corners with two zekhor (Hebrew for remember) pins obtained from the US Holocaust Museum. There are 27 pieces in this exhibit.• All the images are derived from authentic photographs of victims of the Holocaust. I received photos of ten of the highlighted children from survivors who asked me to preserve through art the memory of their relatives who had perished. Others were obtained from books, or from the Internet (mostly Web sites of organizations of survivors of individual ghettos, some Holocaust museums). In addition to the specific information printed on the bottom of each tallit, an explanatory card provides further data and context.• Three of the children portrayed are from Paris, one is from Amsterdam. The rest are from the ghettos of Eastern Europe where the bulk of the Jews lived. Most of the children were deported to extermination camps in Poland. Many others, in the Soviet-occupied territories, were shot by Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing squads).• “Children of the Holocaust” is intended as an educational exhibit. To my knowledge, very few traveling exhibits have been created on the children in the Shoah. My work is totally focused on the plight of the one and a half million Jewish children who perished. As such, it fills a void that has long needed symbolic remembrance.• Thus far, the exhibit has been shown at the Hamburg Library, MI (February-March 2008); the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, MI, (April-August 2008); at the Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, MI (Sept-Oct 2008); and will be exhibited at the Holocaust Memorial and Educational Center of Central Florida in Maitland, Florida, in 2009. and at the Holocaust Museum Houston in 2010. Yad Vashem has shown interest in including this art in the new children’s museum it is now
BRYSK SOLO EXHIBITS2010 Children of the Holocaust, Holocaust Museum Houston, Houston, TX2009 Children of the Holocaust, The Holocaust Memorial and Educational Center of Central Florida, Maitland, FL2008 Children of the Holocaust Kellogg Community College, Battle Creek, MI2008 Children of the Holocaust, Holocaust Memorial Center, Farmington Hills, MI2008 Children of the Holocaust, Hamburg Community Library, Hamburg, MI2007 In a Confined Silence, Battle Creek Art Center, Battle Creek, MI2007 In a Confined Silence, The Holocaust Memorial and Educational Center of Central Florida, Maitland, FL2006 In a Confined Silence, Plymouth Community Art Center, Plymouth, MI2006 In a Confined Silence, Holocaust Museum Houston, Houston, TX2006 In a Confined Silence, Dave and Mary Alper Jewish Community Center,Miami, FL2005 In a Confined Silence, W. K. Kellogg Foundation Gallery, Battle Creek, MI. Exhibit in conjunction with USHM Exhibit “Life in Shadows” in BattleCreek, MI2005 In a Confined Silence, Alfred Berkowitz Gallery, University of Michigan,Dearborn, MI Exhibit in conjunction with The Voice/Vision Holocaust Oral History Archive at the UM-Dearborn Mardigian Library2005 In a Confined Silence, Hillel Student Center, University of Cincinnati,Cincinnati, OH2005 Transitions, Pfizer Global Research and Development Center, Ann Arbor,MI2004 In a Confined Silence, Janice Charach Epstein Gallery, Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit, West Bloomfield, MI2004 In a Confined Silence, Amster Gallery, Jewish Community Center, AnnArbor, MI. Sponsored by the Bobbie and Myron Levine Jewish CommunityCenter Cultural Art Fund2003 Blessings, Amster Gallery, Jewish Community Center, Ann Arbor, MI2001 Spirit, Moody Medical Gallery, Galveston, TX GRANTS 2005 W. K. Kellogg Foundation Grant for the preparation of a travelling exhibit for the Holocaust art series - “In a Confined Silence” ART IN PERMANENT COLLECTIONS2008 Three pieces from “In a Confined Silence” accepted by the Yad Vashem