Rosalyn A. Engelman: “Dry Tears”

Rosalyn A. Engelman: “Dry Tears”

Babi Yar: Korelich, 2007-2008
Acrylic on canvas, 36” x 36”

Back cover: Dream of Freedom, 2007-2008
Acrylic on canvas, 36” x 36”


Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion

Brookdale Center, One West 4th Street, New York, NY 10012-1186


Rosalyn A. Engelman: “Dry Tears”

Art is one of the most powerful tools of social activism and noted artist Rosalyn Engelman, calling attention to the ongoing calamity of human trafficking and human rights violations, is in the vanguard. Engelman uses an arsenal of explicit, graphic, and brutal imagery to capture the viewer’s attention. Translating this horrific behavior into a compelling art installation requires maturity, compassion, and a lifetime commitment to creating fine art. Engelman pushes social boundaries, forcing the public, reluctant to confront painful images, to heed her monumental cry. Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Museum is honored to present Dry Tears, an unflinching mixed media work, in an effort to address these issues of subjugation and erasure.

Laura Kruger, Curator

Rosalyn Engelman uses her skills as a visual artist to cast light on the vulnerability of the individual victim – from the pogroms of Russia to Babi Yar and Auschwitz during the Shoah, from Cambodia and Rwanda to Darfur. Beyond the media reportage depicting the human capacity for evil and the statistics of mass murder, Engelman asks us to identify with those whose lives have been silenced, but whose memory exerts a call for action. Her artistic message, steeped in the prophetic values and ethics of Judaism’s call for tikkun olam, the healing of our world, charges us to remember the past by taking action in the present. She reminds us that to be a bystander is to help the perpetrator and that our human conscience must be vigilant and take a moral stand in our own time.

Jean Bloch Rosensaft, Director


Rosalyn A. Engelman

Rosalyn A. Engelman was born in Liberty, NY. She received a B.A. from City College of New York and M.S. from the University of Rochester and studied at the Art Students League in New York. Her works have been exhibited in many national and international venues and galleries, most recently at the Biennale di Firenze, Italy, and are represented in prestigious private and public collections, such as the Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, TX; City College of New York; Queensborough Community College, New York; Baruch College, New York; New School University Graduate Center, New York; Nigerian Embassy, Togo; and War Tribunal Court, The Hague, Netherlands. In 2000 she was commissioned by the World Court at The Hague to paint the frontispieces for Volumes I and II of Substantive and Procedural Aspects of International Criminal Law, International Courts, Kluwer Law International Publishers, The Hague, Netherlands.

Cover image: Three Graces, 2007-2008
Plastic, fabric, paper, nails, acrylic base, acrylic paint,
wooden railroad ties, barbed wire, 68” x 6’ x 6

Venus Vincola, 2007-2008
Plastic, nails, acrylic paint, 30” high

My life and sensibility have been greatly influenced by Jewish concerns. As a child, the atrocities of World War II were deeply ingrained in my psyche and inner vision. Graphic newsreels and worries about family were part of my earliest consciousness. My father emigrated from Warsaw, Poland and lost many family members, as did my mother who left Russia after the Russian Revolution.

Over the years, many of my exhibitions have dealt with worldwide situations of horror. The exhibition’s title, “Dry Tears,” comes from Yevgeny Yevtushenko’s poem “Babi Yar,” which memorializes the Nazi massacre of 33,771 Jews in Kiev on September 29 and 30, 1941.

And I myself
am one massive soundless scream
above the thousands buried here.

I am
each old man
here shot dead

I am
every child
here shot dead

Nothing in me
shall ever forget

The paintings and installations in this exhibition are my silent scream against man’s inhumanity to man – every man, woman, and child, no matter the color, creed, or nationality. This reflects a strong Jewish concern and sensibility. When God talks to Jonah about Jonah’s sadness over the dried-up gourd that shaded him, God explains concern for all humanity: “Should I not be concerned over Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than l20,000 persons who can not distinguish their right hand from their left, not to mention many cattle?” God commands Jonah to go and warn them to repent. Concern for all humanity and life is a Jewish concern.

These works deal with the suffering and beauty of the innocents. Materials as diverse as wood, paper, plastic, paint, and metal are used expressively and symbolically.

One of the sculptures in this installation is called “Boy M.” It memorializes the children experimented upon without anesthesia by Dr. Mengele, who tried to change their brown eyes to Aryan blue.

I could have titled this exhibition “For My Mother.” During the First World War, her area was overrun by Polish, Russian, and German troops. She told me how the soldiers would gather the children in groups to clear the railroad tracks upon which men and material moved. The Russian winter snow was so deep that some children got stuck, lost, and were found after the thaw. My mother recalled that the only food she had was a warm potato, which warmed her hands for a while, and which at lunch she shared with a cousin, who had none.

While there is truth in the saying: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” I believe it is equally true that “If we are not for others who will be for us?” It is my hope that this effort will transcend the particular and cause the viewers’ consciousness to be raised regardless of individual background and experience. My aim is to create art, but also to reach hearts and minds by way of individual memory, emotion, and experience. It is a challenge inherently daunting to lay one’s soul bare.

Rosalyn A. Engelman

Boy KK, 2007-2008
Plastic, nails, acrylic paint, 46” high

Sash of Power, 2007-2008
Acrylic on canvas, 36” x 36”

Gettysburg, 2007-2008
Acrylic on canvas, 36” x 36”

Machines of War, 2007-2008
Acrylic on canvas, 36” x 36”

Collateral Baby H, 2007-2008
Plastic, nails, acrylic paint, 30” long