Holocaust Art & History Exhibit at Hillel 818 at Cal State University of Northridge Campus, March 26- April 28, 2023
David Labkovski survived the brutal Siberian Gulag as a prisoner under Stalin during World War 2. His visual diary describing his physical and emotional experience will be on display at CSUN in the Hillel 818 building. The over 400 pieces of artwork created by narrative artist and storyteller David Labkovski (1906-1991) enables Holocaust history and the effects of totalitarian regimes along with man's inhumanity to man to be shared in a way that personally speaks to audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Labkovski work shares human emotion, resilience and the human toll of hatred and anti-Semitism.
The mission of the David Labkovski Project is to educate through the art of David Labkovski (1906-1991). By engaging viewers with his paintings and sketches, the David Labkovski Project shares lessons of life, survival, tolerance, acceptance, and the importance of bearing witness to history. The traveling art exhibit “ Documenting History through Art” curated by the non profit David Labkovski Project educates about the dangers of discrimination and hate, shared Leora Raikin, Founder & Executive Director. The DLP has developed project based educational programs for middle high school and college learners using the art as a vehicle to empower students to be able to educate their peers about the Holocaust and the dangers of antisemitism.
Labkovski's work can be categorized into four segments, chronicling life in Vilna, Lithuania, his home before the Holocaust, his time as a prisoner in Siberia, his artistic reactions to the murder of his beloved community and finally his renewal in Israel. Labkovski painted simple identifiable people, events, places, and times.
Labkovski's pre war artwork depicts bustling markets and towns, tradesmen, farmers, families, joy, and purpose in his pre-Holocaust life. Soldiers, prisoners, isolation, separation, dread, and fear are present in his artwork depicting his years in a Soviet Gulag prison camp. Silence, shock, abandonment, and despair at seeing the bombed out ruins of his hometown are present in the Holocaust’s aftermath. And finally, there is beauty, hope, and peace present in his later years, away from the nightmares of his own past. History becomes accessible and therapeutic, not through statistics, vast theories, battles, or metaphorical comparisons, but through one person’s lens of what it was like to live through difficult times. History now becomes time-travel: a living bridge from the complicated times of the past into our own time period.
Matt Baram, Executive Director of Hillel 818 shared that he "is excited to open the doors of the new Hillel 818 building to the David Labkovsky Project.This exhibit is so important as the lessons of the Holocaust have never been more relevant and art is one of humanity’s most powerful storytelling mediums.We invite you to come learn from our speakers, explore the exhibit, and see firsthand how our new Hillel space is a transformative resource for Jewish students in the San Fernando Valley and also for the Jewish community at large."
The exhibit will be opened Sunday, March 26 at 7pm with a lecture by the artists great niece and founder of the DLP, Leora Raikin, and renowned art historian, John Paul Thornton. A second lecture, "Personal connections to the Holocaust”, with Connie Marco, Lisa Lainer- Fagan and Keren Perlmutter will take place April 3 at 6:30pm. Admission is free, registration required.
With Holocaust Commemoration April 18, 2023, the DLP has launched a Reflect & Respond program which invites adults and students to respond to Labkovski artwork through poetry. Submission guidelines are on the website. Selected submissions will be collated into an online journal.
Leora Raikin: 818-631-6286