Holocaust Survivor Samuel Bak Exhibits at Harlan Gallery


GREENSBURG, Pa— Seton Hill University’s National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education will host an exhibit featuring the work of Samuel Bak, “Illuminations:  The Art of Samuel Bak,” and the Saint John’s Bible from October 11-November 15.  A reception will be held Thursday, October 4, from 4-7 p.m. The exhibit and reception are free and open to the public.  Harlan Gallery is a professional exhibition space located in Reeves Hall on Seton Hill University’s Greensburg, Pa., campus. Harlan Gallery is open Monday—Thursday from 5 – 8 p.m., Friday 1 – 3 p.m., and Sunday 1 – 4 p.m. For more information on Harlan Gallery, please contact Harlan Gallery Director Carol Brode at 724-830-1071 or brode@setonhill.edu.

“Illuminations:  The Art of Samuel Bak” features 20 original works by renowned artist and Holocaust survivor Samuel Bak.  The themes of Bak’s work include questions of identity, responsibility, the challenges of justice and the difficulties of rebuilding what was destroyed. 

The artist and his wife, Josee, together with Sue and Bernie Pucker, donated the paintings for exhibition at the Brookline, Mass. Headquarters of Facing History and Ourselves. According to Facing History and Ourselves, “Samuel Bak’s skills as a draftsman, as well as his incredible imagination, open up profound questions for students.  Much of Bak’s art is influenced by his experiences of surviving the Holocaust as a child in Vilna, Poland.”   Bak said, “I certainly do not make illustrations of things that happened.  I do it in a symbolic way, in a way which only gives a sense of a world that was shattered…”

The collection, which is intended to be shared across North America as part of an important educational resource for work with educators and students, is on loan to Seton Hill University.

In addition to Bak’s work, ten framed pages of the Saint John’s Bible (Hebrew Testaments), which is recognized as a work of art and a work of theology, will also be on display at Harlan Gallery.

In 1998, a team of artists coordinated by Donald Jackson in Wales and a team of scholars in Central Minnesota brought together the ancient techniques of calligraphy and illumination with an ecumenical Christian approach to the Bible rooted in Benedictine spirituality. The result is a living document and a monumental achievement.

In the early 1990s, Jackson observed the monks of Saint John’s Abbey processing with their Book of the Gospels for Sunday Mass, and he recognized the importance of “their book.” To create a Bible that would capture the beauty and tradition of centuries of liturgy and carry it into the future—that is the vision that united a calligrapher in Wales with a group of Benedictine monks in Minnesota.

Seton Hill University’s National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education (NCCHE) was established on the campus of Seton Hill University in 1987. Seton Hill initiated this national Catholic movement toward Holocaust studies in response to the urging of Pope John Paul II to recognize the significance of the Shoah, the Holocaust, and to “promote the necessary historical and religious studies on this event which concerns the whole of humanity today” (Letter to Archbishop John L. May, 1987).  The NCCHE has as its primary purpose the broad dissemination of scholarship on the root causes of anti-Semitism, its relation to the Holocaust and the implications from the Catholic perspective of both for today's world. Toward this end the Center is committed to equipping scholars, especially those at Catholic institutions, to enter into serious discussion on the causes of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust; shaping appropriate curricular responses at Catholic institutions and other educational sites; sustaining Seton Hill's Catholic Institute for Holocaust Studies in Israel through a cooperative program with Yad Vashem, the Isaac Jacob Institute for Religious Law and Hebrew University; encouraging scholarship and research through conferences, publications, workshops for educators, and similar activities; sponsoring local events on the Holocaust and related topics in the University and the community and enhancing Catholic-Jewish relations.

A coeducational Catholic university located in Greensburg, Pa., Seton Hill embraces students of all faiths and offers more than 80 undergraduate programs, eight graduate programs, an Adult Degree Program and many advanced certifications. Seton Hill, founded in 1885, offers students the benefit of a long history of educational excellence in the liberal arts. As a national leader in incorporating mobile technologies into teaching and learning, Seton Hill also supplies graduates with the skills they need to adapt to whatever careers they choose – even those that have yet to be created. For more information on Seton Hill's academic programs, technology initiatives and groundbreaking Centers, please visit www.setonhill.edu or call 1-800-826-6234.


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