January 2007 Issue
Time of Remembrance
The images are haunting: "Anne Frank's Amsterdam" depicts the teen-ager's photograph trapped in a web of city streets; in "Box Car" her fragile head shot peers out of a small barred window; and in "Anne Frank's Journey" her passage from her home in Frankfurt, Germany, to the Annex in Amsterdam, to her death in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp is documented
Judith Weinshall Liberman, the artist who created these mixed-media wall hangings, often reflects that "but for the good fortune of living in Israel rather than in Europe during the Holocaust, I might not have escaped her end."
Through February 18, Liberman's work is a focal point of "Threads of Remembrance: Artistic Visions of the Holocaust," on exhibit at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood.
Liberman's poignant wall hangings -- intricate, large-scale fabric works depicting the Holocaust through maps, scenes and visually expressed questions -- are paired with photographer Herbert Ascherman, Jr.'s moving tribute, "50 Faces," black-and-white portraits of northeast Ohio Holocaust survivors, POWs and concentration camp liberators.
The Maltz Museum's transition gallery, lined with Ascherman's black-and-white portraits and painted in red, leads into the larger space where Liberman's hangings are displayed.
"This area is painted a slate gray to mimic the cold, sterile environment of the Holocaust," says Stacy Singerman, manager of special exhibitions for the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. The wall hangings are divided into three sections: maps showing the broad section of Europe where the Holocaust occurred, scenes depicting people and events and the boxcar-shaped space where Liberman asks the poignant question, "Where was God?"
Liberman, 77, who was born and raised in Israel and now resides in Massachusetts, earned two law degrees by the time she took up art in her 30s. It wasn't until 1987 that she adopted wall hangings as the ideal medium for expressing her feelings about the Holocaust.
"As in all of my art, my Holocaust wall hangings derive much of their impact from the fact that they are expressive rather than simply descriptive," she says.
Ascherman, who has been creating fine art portraiture in the greater Cleveland area for more than 30 years, developed "50 Faces" in 1985. He shot each of the portraits using a "passport" approach, seeking to capture the survivors in their natural state with no artistic direction given. Each portrait includes a hand-written testimony.
"I didn't want to impose, dictate or direct by controlling the lighting or asking for elegant images," he explains. "I just wanted to show the people as they were." People such as Leon Faigenbam, dressed smartly in a suit and tie but sporting the battered striped cap he wore while imprisoned in eight concentration camps during World War II. He keeps it as a reminder of the countless times the guards ordered all prisoners to stand at roll call and take off and put on their caps in unison. "Some prisoners were sick and not able to do this," Faigenbam writes, "so they got beaten, sometimes to death."
|Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage
2929 Richmond Rd., Beachwood
Hours: Tues.-Fri. 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Wed. until 9 p.m., Sat. 12-5 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Admission: adults $12, seniors and students $10, children $5