Slide Show (music: Ravel's Kaddish)

About the Artist
Under the Wings of G-d: Illustrations with commentary
Shoah Dreams: Details with commentary

Six million Jewish men, women and children were murdered in the Holocaust. 100,000 Gypsies, a quarter million mentally and physically disabled Germans, thousands of Jehovah's Witnesses and political prisoners, among them Christian clergy, two million Soviet Red Army soldier Prisoners of War; and over one million (non-Jewish) Poles were murdered as well.[1]

Of the six million murdered Jews, over one million remain nameless. One and a half million were children and babies. In the approximately one hundred victims that artist Akiva Kenneth Segan portrays in his Holocaust art series, Under the Wings of G-d, most are anonymous and nameless ("Child with Soup Plate," "Man with Tattered Coat," etc.). Others, created from (published and unpublished) photos, loaned by Holocaust survivors and relatives of victims, are identified by name. Among them is Segan's murdered maternal great-grandmother, Zlata Barshewsky, who was arrested in the Jewish Home for the Aged in Bialystok, Poland in early February, 1942, and deported with thousands of other Bialytoker Jews.

Many of Segan's drawings depict Jews imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto, including some who were still alive during the heroic Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of April 1943 when the ghetto was liquidated. Other depict Jews from elsewhere in Europe who were hunted and targeted for death by the Germans in their fascist campaign of racial superiority and genocide against an "inferior race."

All of Segan's drawings depict the Holocaust victims with wings. (In most of the drawings, the wings are drawn on-site from actual bird wings at the zoology dept. of the University of Washington's Burke Museum in Seattle.) Segan has discovered that wings are a workable metaphor for audiences of all ages and backgrounds; all people, in all times, have been fascinated with the idea of flight. Wings are, in general, a metaphor for freedom; in the Bible, wings are symbolic of shelter and redemption.[2]

Shoah Dreams is a large drawing (4x8 feet) that was begun in summer 1997and completed in May 2000. The piece is designed to be displayed at exhibitions as a table top piece, allowing viewers to walk around it and see the images and the themes that it addresses movement, flight and dislocation from all directions.

Wings are symbols of freedom, shelter and redemption. To depict victims of genocide with wings in all of these drawings is to evoke in a most powerful fashion questions concerning the possibility of peace and co-existence in this troubled post-Auschwitz world.

footnotes [1] According to The Guidelines for Educators of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. [back]

The Hebrew Biblical word for angel (mal'ach) acutally means "messenger." [back]
footnotes G-D vs GOD: The spelling with hyphenation is at the request of the artist; in the rest of this magazine we use the spelling without hyphenation.
footnotes Ravel's Kaddish, The Jewish Soul, © Centaur Records, Inc.
footnotes Samuel Bak's Holocaust Art



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