Acclaimed artist Alice Lok Cahana will speak on the theme "From Ashes to the Rainbow" on Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009 at the Museum’s Morgan Family Center, 5401 Caroline St., in Houston’s Museum District. Admission is free.
Cahana’s presentation will be the first in a new series of educational forums offered during extended hours from 5-8 p.m. the first Thursday of each month. The event will begin with a 6 p.m. reception, and the artist will speak from 6:30-7:30 p.m. The Museum’s Permanent Exhibit "Bearing Witness: A Community Remembers" and its two current changing exhibits "Dr. Seuss Wants You!" and "A One-Man Army: The Art of Arthur Szyk" also will be on view during the extended hours.
Cahana, who uses the artistic style of lyrical abstraction, has artwork permanently exhibited at the Vatican Museum’s Collection of Modern Art. She is the only Holocaust survivor whose work is being shown in the Vatican’s museum. Her 85- by 45-inch acrylic painting entitled "No Names" was accepted personally for inclusion at the Vatican by Pope Benedict XVI in October 2006.
Joining Cahana on Feb. 5 will be Dr. Harvey Rosenstock, a nationally renowned psychiatrist who was instrumental in getting Cahana’s work accepted by the Vatican.
Cahana’s work derives from her experiences as a Holocaust survivor and uncovers deep revelations about the human soul. Cahana, a native of Hungary, is expected to discuss her artwork, the source of her artistic inspiration, and her experience as a survivor during the February lecture.
Spielberg was so moved by the artwork and life of Cahana that he decided to feature her in his 1997 Academy Award-winning documentary "The Last Days" after visiting the Museum’s exhibition of her work. She was one of five Hungarian survivors chosen by Spielberg for the film.
The artist was deported to Auschwitz with her mother and siblings in 1944 after Hungary was invaded by the Germans earlier that year. Cahana’s mother, grandfather and younger brothers were immediately sent to the gas chambers, but she and her sister Edith were separated. Miraculously, they found each other and stayed together even when sent to a munitions factory to work as slave laborers and later taken on a death march that ended in the concentration camp at Bergen Belsen.
Alice Cahana was later scheduled to be gassed in October 1944 but was ordered out of the gas chamber after an uprising in the camp and survived. She was freed when British troops liberated Bergen Belsen in April 1945 and was sent to Sweden to recuperate. Edith, weakened beyond endurance, died soon after liberation.
After immigrating to Israel, Alice Cahana married Rabbi Moshe Cahana, later moved to Houston and studied at the University of Houston and Rice University. Several works of her art are on display at the Museum.
Rosenstock, is a past president of Congregation Brit Shalom, an active member of Project Torah and on the Board of Directors for Jewish Family Services. He has lectured around the world, and his wife wrote the screenplay for the film "Locked in Silence," which was nominated for four Emmy awards.
Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy. Holocaust Museum Houston is free and open to the public and is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004.
For more information about the Museum, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.