Farmington Hills Holocaust Center hosts ‘Sifting Through the Ashes’

Sifting Through the AshesThe Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills will host “Sifting Through Ashes,” a special art exhibit on display from January 22 through March 27.

The display features the work of artist Bruce Gendelman, who captures the atrocities of the Holocaust through a series of nine large-scale richly textural oil paintings and 20 photographs. The exhibition conveys the unique and important role of contemporary art in educating new audiences about the Holocaust in the upcoming “post-witness” era, when all Holocaust survivors will be gone.

Jon Aldred for Farmington Hills City Council

Also on exhibit are several sculptures by Holocaust Memorial Center Survivor Speaker Henry Friedman.

Gendelman will speak at an opening program held on Monday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m., as will Arthur Berger, retired senior official from the United States Department of State and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. During “American Diplomacy and the Holocaust: The Roots of Hatred Explained in History and Interpreted in Art,” Gendelman will share insights on how the history of the Holocaust and its relevance today impacted his work, while Berger will examine FDR and America’s reactions to key pre-Holocaust events of the 1930s.

RSVPs are required by January 16 to 248-536-9605 or

Paintings on display will include:

  • A series of four, eight-foot tall oil paintings entitled the Birkenau Barracks Memorials, which portray Auschwitz II-Birkenau’s towering chimneys, that still dominate the landscape today.
  • Dom Katolicki, an eight-foot tall oil painting detailing the remnants of the building where Gendelman’s ancestors were tortured. Each painted brick represents the individual lives and lost futures of the 950 Jews murdered there.
  • Three large-scale oil paintings called the Birkenau Deathscapes. Here, Gendelman drew upon his own nightmares rather than photographs from the Holocaust, depicting a dark and emotional scene where it is not evident if it is day or night.
  • The ninth painting is a majestic 12-foot-wide mixed media work called the Aerial View of Birkenau. Gendelman incorporated more than 500 pounds of oil paint, wood, string and newsprint on the canvas to depict the precise industrial design of the death camp.

The paintings will be complemented by a display of Gendelman’s photographs of Krakow, Auschwitz II-Birkenau and Tuchow in Poland along with Bolekhiv and Lviv in the Ukraine.

“Bruce Gendelman’s art, in the form of masterful, emotive, larger-than-life paintings and moving photographs, taken from the sites of death camps around Europe, are a sobering reminder about the atrocities and poignant memories still felt by so many today,” said Rabbi Eli Mayerfeld, CEO, Holocaust Memorial Center. “We are honored to have Bruce’s art on display, and it is our sincere hope our visitors, including teachers and students from throughout southeast Michigan and beyond, will learn from his works. This exhibit supports our important mission of education and learning lessons from the Holocaust, which, in a world still filled with hate and bigotry, is more important than ever.”

The exhibit is open Sunday through Friday and is free with museum admission or membership. Docent-led tours of the exhibit will be hosted at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 4 and Sunday, Mar. 18, and at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 12 and Monday, Mar. 12. Sign up for a tour by calling 248-553-2400, ext. 110.

For more information, call 248-553-2400.

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