Artist Akiva Segan: Presentation to Art History Students

19/02/2010

Artist Akiva Segan visits Richmond

Artist Akiva Segan visits Richmond

Tuesday 9 February saw the second visit to Richmond of Seattle-based artist Akiva Segan who gave a presentation to MA Art History students on two series of his mixed media works: Under the Wings of G-d & Sight-seeing with Dignity.

Born in New York in 1950 and art schooled in the American Midwest, Segan has been creating the monumental Holocaust art series Under the Wings of G-d since 1991. The series is designed to restore dignity to the memory of millions murdered by European Nazis, Fascists, bystanders and the silence of millions during World War II. In the early years of the series the victims portrayed were Jewish; in 1999 he began depicting Christian and Christian-background victims of the Nazis; a Roma child is also depicted. The moving artworks are known for their realism and for a metaphoric depiction of victims with wings, drawn from actual birds’ wings.

With the Holocaust and World War II history receding in memory, in 2002 Segan began a companion series depicting victims of contemporary hate crimes, genocide, governmental repression, assassination of journalists and more. Titled Sight-seeing with Dignity, this series attempts to bridge the past and the present.

Since 1994 Segan has lectured throughout the U.S., England, Scotland, Wales and Israel. His artworks are in public gallery collections in Austria, France, Hungary, Israel, Scotland and the United States. He directs the International Shoah Art Museum (online) and Holocaust/Genocide Education through Art.

In the presentation Segan detailed the development of the series, giving students a good understanding of a contemporary artist’s working methods. The question and answers session provided an open forum for debate and the opportunity for students to ask questions directly to a practicing artist. The discussion addressed fundamental problems of representation: how can a contemporary artist represent the Holocaust or other complex social issues? What will communicate to a wide audience? How do the materials and methods convey the artist’s ideas? The presentation gave students much to think about, raising issues that can be related to the works of other artists.

 

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