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.
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(published and unpublished) photos, loaned by Holocaust survivors and relatives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.
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.
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.
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
According to The Guidelines for Educators of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial
Museum in Washington, D.C. [back]
Hebrew Biblical word for angel (mal'ach) acutally means "messenger."
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.
Jewish Soul, © Centaur
Bak's Holocaust Art