Moral Courage, an exhibition of monumental works by artist Karen Gunderson, opens at the Skirball Museum of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion on March 18, 2002 and continues through May 2, 2002. Gunderson utilizes the emotional and symbolic texture of intense darkness and illumination to evoke images of rescue and resistance as demonstrated by Danes and Bulgarians during the Holocaust.
Gunderson's installation includes seascapes evoking the rescue of Danish Jews by boat to Sweden, as well as iconic portraits of the Kings of Denmark and Bulgaria who led their nations' rescues of Jewish citizens. Gunderson believes that "art can inspire and heal" and comments, "this series of work is the most important I have created because it chronicles extraordinary historical events."
While growing up in a Danish community in Racine, Wisconsin, Gunderson learned about the courage of King Christian X against the Nazis. In 1943, the people of Denmark, led by King Christian X, helped save 7,000 Danish Jews from Nazi roundups by assisting their escape to Sweden in boats. The King Boris III portrait was inspired by the remarkable story of how the nation of Bulgaria saved its 50,000 Jews from the Nazis. By scratching the surface, the artist created a black on black image to portray King Boris III, a leader who cared for all his citizens.
In "Night Passage to Sweden," an eleven-foot charcoal drawing, Gunderson depicts a dark seascape and safe passage. In another work, an installation of four large-scaled drawings each depicting the sea from a different navigational direction, Gunderson places the viewer within the small rescue boat. In "Eleven of Many," Gunderson implies that many people from different life experiences were part of the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews.
Moral Courage is being presented at the Skirball Museum in conjunction withHolocaust Awareness Weeks 2002: Role Models from the Holocaust. Two weeks of lectures, exhibits, films, and cultural events are offered to the public. Area bookstores and public libraries will feature exhibits and book signings, the Cincinnati Film Society will host film viewings across the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area, and local universities and high schools will welcome world-renowned speakers. For information about Holocaust Awareness Weeks or to receive a calendar of events contact Carrie Glenny at (513) 221-1875 ext. 355.
HUC-JIR's Skirball Museum, Cincinnati is open to the public Monday through Thursday 11:00 am - 4:00 pm, Sundays 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm, and by appointment. Docent guided tours can be arranged for groups of ten or more by calling the museum office at (513) 221-1875, ext. 358. The Skirball Museum is located in Mayerson Hall, 3101 Clifton Avenue, on the campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Admission and parking are free of charge. The museum is handicap accessible.