Courtesy Of Marty Kalb
"Lodz Ghetto Murder #1" is part of the Holocaust Series, charcoal on Paper.
Know and go
What: UAS Evening at Egan Presents "Holocaust Portraits, Victims, Perpetrators, Witnesses" with Marty Kalb, Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts Ohio Wesleyan University
For more on Marty Kalb
, visit www.martykalb.com
It's a question visiting artist Marty Kalb will address this week during his visit to the University of Alaska Southeast, and one that suggests many interesting answers - some of which may be spurred by viewing Kalb's own work, the Holocaust Series.
One possible answer, true for this viewer: Kalb's
drawings and paintings of Holocaust victims may allow for an emotional and personal engagement with a subject that is otherwise too horrifying to face.
Kalb, Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts at Ohio Wesleyan University, will be the featured speaker at this week's Evening at Egan presentation, "Holocaust Portraits, Victims, Perpetrators, Witnesses.
The lecture begins at 7 p.m. in the Egan Library
visit to Juneau is co-sponsored by Terzis and UAS associate professor of history, Robin Walz
, and will continue next week with visit to UAA and UAF.
"The images are of people, they're portraits, so to speak, of perpetrators, victims and witnesses," Kalb
"I want people to see who was involved as human beings."
Though it's tempting to view them as monsters, bringing the perpetrators back into the human realm is a step toward understanding how such brutality is possible.
Looking at photos of the doctors, responsible for some of the most horrific crimes, Kalb
was struck by how harmless they looked.
"You look at them and they look like somebody's grandpda.
I want that sense of their presence as people."
By grouping victims, perpetrators and witnesses together, Kalb
also underscores the idea that everyone involved in the Holocaust, either directly or indirectly, was in some way a victim.
"Even though they might not all have been tortured, or in some way or another physically harmed, they were, in my view, victims of a situation that caused them to do things that are inhumane."
, who is Jewish, began his
Holocaust series in the 1990s, but it is by no means his
only artistic focus.
subjects range from colorful landscapes and waterfalls to female figures and abstract geometric pieces, many reflecting his
attraction to things that are "outwardly and conventionally beautiful.
work is included in more than a dozen major museums throughout the country, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art
in New York and the Library of Congress
in Washington, D.C.
The works that make up the Holocaust Series are based on documentary images in the public domain.
drawings and paintings combine the realism of those images with more abstract elements, and tend to be "a little less real," allowing room for a more emotional connection.
In one drawing, a young girl of about 14 or 15 lies on the ground with a bullet hole in her
eyes completely blank.
In another, a girl looks out from a train bound for Auschwitz.
Though unidentified in the original photo, Kalb
later learned she
was of Gypsy decent, and, after extensive research, was able to give her
In addition to their more abstract nature, the drawings and paintings show evidence of the artist's presence, unlike a photograph, a difference that Kalb said may help create a kind of shared experience between artist and viewer.