UB Jewish Institute, Art Galleries to Present "The Holocaust and Art: Differing Approaches"

Lecture, discussion, graphic art and photos confront a murderous Nazi bureaucracy

Release Date: April 9, 2009

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Marty Kalb will discuss the Holocaust and art at a lecture on April 21.

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- "If we are to learn from the past, if we are ever to rise above inhumanity, we must never underestimate its resources and terrors," says Richard Cohen, professor of philosophy and director of the Institute for Jewish Thought and Heritage at the University at Buffalo.

With that in mind, the institute and the UB Art Gallery will bring noted artists together this month to discuss and demonstrate some of the stunning ways in which art illuminates such "resources and terrors" at work in the Shoah in ways that other forms of documentation do not.

In an April 21 lecture, "The Holocaust and Art: Differing Approaches," Marty J. Kalb, professor emeritus of fine arts at Ohio Wesleyan University, will discuss how his own work and that of others continues to challenge the industrialization of murder by a modern government.

Kalb is an artist known in particular for his "Holocaust Series," a visceral and disturbing group of paintings, site photographs, drawings, historical documents and constructions with which he evokes the horror of the Holocaust in profoundly emotional terms.

The gallery will feature an exhibition of photos by Richard Ehrlich, "The Holocaust Archive Revealed: Bad Arolsen Through the Lens of Richard Ehrlich," another unnerving body of work that has been exhibited around the world and documents the obsessive record-keeping practices of the Nazi bureaucracy. It will be on view in the UB Art Gallery in the Center for the Arts on the UB North (Amherst) Campus, April 21-June 20.

The lecture will begin at 5 p.m. in the Drama Theatre in the UB Center for the Arts and will be followed by a panel discussion featuring photographer Ehrlich and moderator Cohen.

Panelists also will include two other artists who have dealt with the Holocaust in their work. One is internationally acclaimed printmaker Harvey Breverman, SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the UB Department of Visual Arts.

Breverman's "Federman Cycle" of prints depicts, not the Holocaust itself, but what Raymond Federman, SUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the UB Department of English, an internationally recognized writer, translator and subject of the series, called "the debris of its unforgivable enormity."

Joining Breverman and Cohen will be Saul Elkin, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in the UB Department of Theatre and Dance, founder of Shakespeare in Delaware Park and co-founder and artistic director of the Jewish Repertory Theater of Western New York.

Cohen says, "It is perhaps because the horrors of the Holocaust are unspeakable that so many have turned to art -- to novels, films, painting, poetry, photography, etc. -- in an attempt, however inadequate, to capture something of its significance."

"Ehrlich's photographs open up yet another 'angle,' another 'doorway,' to an event whose significance is not merely Jewish, or German, or even Christian, but human and global," Cohen says.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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