A dozen years after its first showing, a unique historical Holocaust exhibit has been revived for one month at the Giles Gallery at Eastern Kentucky University.
The exhibit, “This Is Home Now: Kentucky's Holocaust Survivors,” runs from Sept. 25 through Oct. 25 and is free and open to the public. The opening reception on Wednesday night, Oct. 4, includes a talk by John Rosenberg, one of the Kentucky Holocaust survivors featured in the exhibit.
Dramatic black-and-white photos of nine Holocaust survivors, their biography panels, and 30 highlighted quote panels tell the stories of survivors who made Kentucky their home.
The exhibit premiered in May 2005 at the Lexington History Museum, where it remained through January 2006. Friends Arwen Donahue and Rebecca Gayle Howell “dreamed up the idea” to gather together Holocaust survivors in the unique format. Howell took the photographs, and Donahue designed the text panels, which were excerpts from her oral history interviews. Their photos and full interviews were later published in 2009 in Donahue’s book, “This Is Home Now: Kentucky’s Holocaust Survivors Speak,” publishedby the University Press of Kentucky.
EKU’s exhibit was revived through an initial grant from The Olga Lengyl Institute dedicated to training teachers in the Holocaust and other crucial social justice issues. EKU English professor Jacqueline Kohl obtained the grant after completing a teacher training program in New York City in 2016.
The opening reception at the gallery runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 4, with a talk from 7 to 7:45 p.m. featuring Rosenberg and Donahue. On the next night, Thursday, Oct. 5, guests can view the exhibit, hear a poetry reading and enjoy a question-and-answer session with Howell, the James Still writer-in-residence at Hindman Settlement School. The gallery is open from 7 to 8:30 p.m. with the reading at 7:30 p.m.
Rosenberg, of Prestonsburg, is director emeritus of Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky, a legal services program serving low-income clients in 37 counties in eastern and south central Kentucky. Prior to that work, Rosenberg served as a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice, where he litigated racial discrimination cases primarily in the South. He has received a number of awards for his public service work, including the Kentucky Bar Association’s Distinguished Attorney Award and the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award.
Donahue, a Kentucky artist and oral historian, also co-authored “Oral History Guidelines for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.” She has taught and lectured on oral history across the United States, and has worked with numerous organizations on documenting institutional and personal memory through oral history. Since 2013, she has served on the Advisory Board of the Kentucky Oral History Commission. In 2018, her oral history/art exhibit, “Rooted Words: Kentucky Writers on the Land,” will be on view at the Downtown Arts Center in Lexington.
Howell’s recent poetry book, “American Purgatory,” was selected by Don Share for the 2016 Sexton Prize. Her debut collection, “Render/An Apocalypse,” was a finalist for Foreword Review's 2014 Book of the Year and received wide critical acclaim, most notably by David L. Ulin of the Los Angeles Times, who called the collection "remarkable." A Pushcart Prize winner, Howell also has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Kentucky Arts Council and the Carson McCullers Center, as well as sustaining support from the Kentucky Foundation for Women throughout her career. Since 2014, she has edited poetry for the Oxford American, publishing a new profile of Southern poetics, including such writers as Nikki Giovanni, Tyehimba Jess and Fady Joudah, and featuring the release of Nikky Finney's epic, "The Battle of and for The Black Face Boy."
Other event sponsors include EKU’s Department of Art & Design; the Department of English and Theatre; and the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences.
The Gallery, located in the Campbell Building, is open Monday through Friday. Specific hours are posted at art.eku.edu/fred-parker-giles-gallery.
For more details about the exhibit, contact Jacqueline Kohl at 859-935-5153. To arrange group tours or other times, contact Gallery Curator Esther Randall at firstname.lastname@example.org.