The photos of Survivor Naomi Warren in her home were among the first taken in the series.
Naomi Warren's home setting
In Hebrew, 18 is “chai,” meaning life, and Holocaust Museum Houston’s new exhibition “Life: “Survivor Portraits” serves as an exploration and celebration of the lives that Houston-area survivors of the Holocaust have created for themselves.
Beginning on Thursday, June 26, 2014, during the Museum’s 18th anniversary year, this new series by local artist Kelly Lee Webeck will include 18 portraits of local survivors and 18 images that document the home space each survivor has created.
“Life: Survivor Portraits” will remain on view through Oct. 12, 2014.
The exhibit includes 36 gelatin silver prints, and to increase the exhibit’s interactivity, broaden accessibility and extend its reach beyond the physical and temporal exhibit, two iPads include additional images not shown on the walls. Through the use of technology, these images, and the 36 images in the show will be available through the iPad technology utilized in the Museum’s Digital Trunk program. On the digital screens, the photographs can be viewed and used in classrooms and other community spaces to continue the inquiry begun in the exhibit space.
“I have worked with Holocaust Museum Houston since 2007, when I began photographically documenting the Warren Fellowship for Future Teachers. Since then, I have found myself becoming close to the survivor community. In 2010, I envisioned a project and wrote to several survivors I had come to know and care about, asking if anyone would be willing to participate in this portrait photography project,” Webeck explained.
“In many cases, I had listened to survivors talk about their experiences during the Holocaust; often, I heard their stories numerous times. I wondered what their lives were like when not in the Holocaust museum setting,” she said. “I yearned to see where they lived, what life was like when they were at home. As part of the project, I went to their homes and asked to see the spaces they had created for themselves. I have always been interested in the objects people choose to surround themselves with and how the spaces people create become a part of their identity. The time I spend with survivors, making images, is not about testimony or war. It is about the lives they have created for themselves since the war; it is about who and how they are in their home space. I think portraits could be equivalent to a visual testimony, and for me, these images, made on film, offer moments of quiet reflection. In my subjects’ homes, I find spaces and moments that speak of identity, memory and passion. There are stories that can be learned through reading the lines in their faces and observing the objects they surround themselves with, the things that are special to them, mostly acquired in the years after the war.”
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’s Morgan Family Center is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004. For more information about the Museum, call 713-92-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.