ARTIST’S STATEMENT by Miriam Brysk I have recently published my memoir “Amidst the Shadows ofTrees”, depicting my childhood in the Lida ghetto and in thepartisans. Dealing with the pain and emotions of my own childhoodexperiences led me to consider the plight of the one and a halfmillion Jewish children who had not survived. I thought of theirdisrupted rites of passage as beloved sons and daughters ofextended Jewish families, and their ultimate and untimely deaths inNazi-designated killing places. The idea for a new art series beganto emerge; I would focus on depicting the children who died, in thecontext of what they are likely to have experienced. One of the rites of passage from childhood to adulthood is theBar/Bat Mitzvah at age thirteen. At that event, children traditionallyreceive a tallis/tallit (prayer shawl) from their parents. Most of theJewish children who died in the Holocaust, however, were tooyoung to ever have had a Bar Mitzvah, or to ever have worn a tallit. I,therefore, used the imagery of the tallit to frame each piece. Eachchild is contained within his own tallit, the one he never received, asa gift of remembrance from me. To preserve historic authenticity,each image depicts a real child victim of the Shoah; the caption tellsthe city he was from and the place where he was likely to have died. My life, like my art, has been strongly influenced by mychildhood experiences surviving the Nazi Holocaust. My artisticinterest in the Holocaust was fueled by a visit in 2002 to the ghettosand camps of Eastern Europe. Throughout the trip, images of mylost family were creeping back into my consciousness, whilechildhood fears reemerged as frightening nightmares. My entirebeing was shaking in horror as I sobbed for my own lost family andthe six million of my people who had so inhumanely and painfullyperished. I felt a deep inner need to portray their suffering. I wantedto express these feelings through art. This resulted in the imagesportrayed in my first Holocaust art exhibit – “In a Confined Silence”,forty pieces depicting the plight of my family and the other Jewsduring the Shoah. This body of work has received rave reviews andhas been nationally exhibited in Holocaust Museums, Municipal ArtCenters and Jewish Community Centers. Three of the pieces fromthis exhibit have been accepted into the permanent collection of theYad Vashem. Science and art have been my life’s passions. I received my Ph.D.in science from Columbia University. Most of my professional lifehas been spent as a Professor at the University of Texas MedicalBranch in Galveston. I am a self-taught artist.
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 planning. More information about me, and my previous Holocaust art exhibit “In a Confined Silence” can be obtained on
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 Battle Creek, 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, Ann Arbor, MI. Sponsored by the Bobbie and Myron Levine Jewish Community Center Cultural Art Fund2003 Blessings, Amster Gallery, Jewish Community Center, Ann Arbor, MI2001 Spirit, Moody Medical Gallery, Galveston, TX GRANTS2005 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