Denver Seminary Bridge Gallery
This exhibition is running from January 18 - March 15, 2011.
Monday-Thursday: 8:00 am to 7:00 pm
Friday: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Artists’ Reception: Feb. 18th from 6:00 to 8:00 pm
The artists will speak about their work at 7:00 pm.
Unexplainable visions mark our souls with query, empathy, and distress. We seek to understand and relate to the images in a way that is humanly tolerable to what we believe is just and true. When this is unachievable, we enter an abyss of elucidation and consolation. It is there in this void where we seek our God for insight and wisdom beyond any comprehension.
The Holocaust exhibition presents a visual account of generations of inflicted souls whose physical existence was desecrated by the Nazi terror in the Holocaust. The memories and dreams of one man, artist Martin Mendelsberg, are documented in his portfolio of digital prints juxtaposing the Hebrew letters from the Torah in stratum with old imagery of Shoah victims and iconic symbols empowering his work with passion, pain and prayer.
Dreams and memories take place in our subconscious and reside in our souls. For Medelsberg the subliminal impressions needed a presence. Artist, colleague and friend, Irene McCray took on the mission to bring Martin’s dreams to life in her large oil paintings rendering the parallel emotions of destruction and restoration in the ashes of pain.
Entries and Artists' Statements:
The Holocaust Portfolio is the culmination of more than ten years of Hebrew letterform studies, image-making, reflection and memory. As a middle class American Jewish child I remember sitting alone in my parent’s home watching television and witnessing for the first time grainy documentary footage of the death camps in Poland. While I never experienced the terror and nightmares of the Holocaust, my subconscious was indelibly marked. Five decades later I opened an old photo album and discovered a picture of two beautiful girls, one with a walking cane. I only know they were great Aunt Bluma’s daughters photographed in Poland before the Nazi terror. Their fate is a mystery as is the fate of so many near and distant relatives. This single little picture sparked my imaginings ever since.
This series of 2 paintings and 2 drawings came out of a dream told to me by my friend and colleague, Martin Mendelsberg. In his dream he saw himself in a cattle car on the way to Aschwitz, surrounded by th e familiar and treasured old photographs of distant relatives that he utilizes in his own art about the Holocaust. In the dream, though, the photographs had transformed into life size and threatening photo beings narrowing in on him. Upon hearing his dream, I immediately asked his permissio n to paint it. I felt that my request in that moment of empathy was entering a sacred space and I was careful to give it deeply respectful thought. It was in fact several years before I asked Martin to pose for the first of the paintings, Shadowed Time. It has him in a wing-like cloak, feathered with the photographs, as if his relatives who experienced the Holocaust have become his wounded wings and he their intervening angel. The drawing, Martin, is the same depiction of the dream, except that the photos are overtaking him. In Tail Feathers he is an alchemist, transforming the photos by his careful attention that adds wings and the aleph to each image, which gives them freedom to fly.
Martin talks about seeing TV pictures of the horrors of the death camps when he was a child. Since Martin and I are the same age, I imagine that I saw those images at the very same stage of development that he did and struggled in similar ways to understand the adult attempts to add narrative to these forever embedded visions. The paintings were my effort to not only create a portrait of Martin’s obsession, but also to have an outlet for my reaction to one of humanity’s greatest traumas.
Sales of pieces will be allowed, though buyers will not be allowed to collect their purchase until after the closing of the show. Artists can set their own prices and will work directly with those who are interested in purchasing their piece. Artists agree to pay a 10% commission to Denver Seminary for any pieces they sell during the show. Commission checks should be made payable to Denver Seminary; please write "Bridge Gallery" on the memo line.
Sandra Jean Ceas is an artist exhibiting internationally. She is a professor of art at Colorado Christian University and Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, and previously served as a gallery assistant at Walter and McBean Galleries in San Francisco. She acquired her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. You can learn more about her and view some of her art on her website.