The Dilemma of Memory: Maine Artists and the Holocaust

Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine

The Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine, located on the campus of the University of Maine at Augusta, presents an exhibit of sculpture, photography, prints, paintings, and poetry exploring themes and aspects of the Holocaust. The exhibit, featuring Maine artists and writers, runs from October 3 through December 3. An opening reception on October 17, 4-7 p.m., will feature the exhibit’s poets reading from their works and Maria Wagner playing “Soliloquy for Solo Clarinet” by Elliot Schwartz.

Exhibit organizer, artist Leonard Meiselman, has been planning and working on this exhibition for over a year. “I am continually amazed and fascinated by the ongoing outpouring of memoirs, documentaries, paintings, and poems – and now an opera and a new major film – 69 years after the Holocaust ended. Artists, writers, and filmmakers are still finding some essential energy in Holocaust themes,” he says. “Why does the Holocaust draw this amount of obsessive attention?”

Meiselman, a life-long artist, thought he had left New York City three years ago to live in Wiscasset and paint the trees in Maine, but found himself painting Holocaust images instead. “In this world of suffering and political turmoil in which we find ourselves today, it is meaningful to dwell on this chapter of the last century – to remember what happened and how it happened by gradual degrees and incremental infringements on human rights. I suspect that for my generation of artists and poets, it is about coming to terms with our history, our heritage, and our identity.”

As an organizer of The Dilemma of Memory, along with David Greenham, Program Director, Holocaust and Human Rights Center, and poet Lee Sharkey, Meiselman said he was deeply gratified with how the artists and poets came together to create this exhibition. This is a group of mature artists, he explained, grappling with similar ghosts and shadows: “I’ve experienced a wonderful sense of fellow-feeling, of finding other artists struggling with some of the same issues that haunt my work as an artist.” Meiselman asserts that the artists taking part in The Dilemma of Memory intend to make a statement: “It is both beautiful and terrible to live with the presence of a history of human suffering and to feel, somehow, that one can redeem the victims from anonymity.”

Participants in the exhibit include photographer Judy Glickman; sculptor Robert Katz; painters George Mason, Leonard Meiselman, and Bob Moskowitz; printmaker Dorothy Schwartz; and poets Tony Brinkley, Mark Melnicove, Lee Sharkey, Martin Steringesser, and Anna Wrobel.

The Dilemma of Memory: Maine Artists and the Holocaust is supported by Bath Savings Trust, UMA Senior College, Dr. Julius Ciembroniewicz, and J.S. McCarthy Printers. For directions and more information about the exhibit, visit hhrcmaine.org.