Tag Archives: Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives

Queens students look at the horrors of genocide


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

They vowed to never forget — and never again allow another Holocaust.

Students, faculty members and survivors of the genocide gathered at the Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives (KHRCA) of Queensborough Community College (QCC) for the opening night of “Testimony Across the Disciplines: Queensborough Community College Students Respond to Genocide through Art and Writing.”

Over 300 students and 20 faculty members from five colleges, working in 10 academic disciplines, were involved with creating this capstone exhibit, presented by the 2014-2015 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Challenge Grant Colloquia.

“Testimony Across the Disciplines” features a wide variety of works by students who conducted research and studied cultural and artistic responses to genocide and organized hate. For one year, the students worked closely with faculty members, Holocaust survivors, victims and offenders of incarceration, and genocide scholars to create the exhibit.

“I wanted to immerse students across several disciplines in the study of genocide and then capture their creative responses,” said Cary Lane, from QCC’s department of academic literacy and co-project investigator. “Tonight, the students’ creative responses are on display as both an art exhibit and performance of music, dance and poetry.”

“Profiles of Survival: Holocaust Survivors of the KHRCA,” was a collaborative effort between academic literacy ESL students and art and design photography students to document, both visually and verbally, the experiences of the KHRCA Holocaust survivors.

The students who wrote the biographies conducted group and personal interviews with the survivors to learn about their stories. One of those survivors, Elena Berkovits, lectured the students on her experiences during the Holocaust for the project.

According to her profile, written by student Haeun Kim, Berkovits was born in Transylvania in 1928, and by 1944 the Nazis took control of her country. She and her family, along with hundreds of other Jews, were transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp. She remembered the Nazis sending the children, the elderly and the infirmed directly to the gas chambers.

“When I lived in Transylvania, it belonged to Hungary,” Berkovits explained to visitors at the event. “I was taken to Auschwitz. It was just horrible.”

Berkovits survived the ordeal and, in 1945, married her husband and had a daughter. She now has two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Another pieces focused on the Holocaust, “Graphic Narratives and Objects Reflections,” consists of stories that combine visual and textual elements to form a unique reading experience. Students were tasked with creating their own graphic narratives exploring the themes of genocide, war, identity and ethnicity.

The “Poetry: Resisting Silence, Giving Voice” exhibit gave students the opportunity to express their feelings toward genocide, racism, war, trauma and oppression, through poetry.

On a much more current topic, the exhibit “Restorative Justice and Community Healing” focuses on healing not only the victim, but also the offender and the community, of the damage caused by violent crimes.

“Restorative justice looks at the goal of repairing the harm that was caused by crime in non-traditional ways,” said Rose Marie Äikäs, Ph.D., assistant professor of criminal justice. “We wanted to teach through process.”

Äikäs’ students visited Hour Children in Astoria, an organization dedicated to helping incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their children rebuild relationships with their families, rejoin the community and create healthy lives.

The series of interviews conducted by the students were documented and displayed as part of the exhibit.

“Testimony Across the Disciplines,” is open from April 16 to May 21 at the KHRCA.

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Holocaust survivor shares experiences through art


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

As visitors walk through the Queensborough Community College (QCC) Art Gallery, they are taken through the experiences of Rosemarie Koczÿ, who at three years old had her life turned upside down.

Koczÿ was born in 1939 in Recklinghausen, Germany and three years later was taken to a concentration camp together with her family. At a young age, Koczÿ witnessed death, loss and the struggle to survive.

Years later, still having the hardships she shared with many others strong in her mind and making it as a survivor of the Holocaust, Koczÿ began keeping records of the memories through different methods of artwork. The artist began with creating tapestries then moved to drawings, paintings and sculptures. Koczÿ died in 2007. Since September, QCC has had close to 140 pieces of Koczÿ’s art, created over nearly 30 years, on display in an exhibit titled “Art As A Witness” at the campus’ historic Oakland Building.

The series of close to 100 drawings, done with ink on paper, involved in the exhibit are called “I Weave You A Shroud.” Koczÿ used each of the drawings to remember those she saw suffer and die while in the concentration camps.

“They are burials I offer to those I saw die in the camps where I was deported…” Koczÿ wrote in an initial description of her series. “In the Jewish burials the dead are washed; a woman washes the body of a dead woman, a man washes the body of a dead man. The body is then wrapped in a shroud. Sewing a shroud is an act of respect and a rite.”

The exhibit also features wood sculptures and paintings titled “Standing Man,” where Koczÿ honors an unknown prisoner who ultimately gave his life to help and protect her in the camp.

Some of the pieces are owned by the QCC Art Gallery of the City University of New York, other paintings are loaned by the Stichting Collectie de Stadshof in The Netherlands, drawings from the Musée Création Franche in France and sculptures are from private collectors.

One of Koczÿ’s sculptures is permanently on display at QCC’s Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives, while another piece, a tapestry made in 1975, is hung above the main desk in the admissions office.

QCC is located at 222-05 56th Avenue in Bayside and “Art As A Witness” is free to the public and will be up until Sunday, January 5.

The QCC Art Gallery is closed Monday and opened Tuesday and Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and weekends noon to 5 p.m.

 

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