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Note: Attendees must provide proof of vaccination (including booster, if eligible) and advance Eventbrite registration.

Presented by BFA Visual & Critical Studies, the SVA Honors Program, and The Fritz Ascher Society for Persecuted, Ostracized, and Banned Art.

In honor of The Fritz Ascher Society for Persecuted, Ostracized and Banned Art’s virtual exhibition “Identity, Art and Migration,” this panel discussion probes historical and all-too contemporary fault lines of persecution, migration, intolerance, cultural complexity and art. Historians, curators and artists come together to discuss the life and work of artists who were persecuted by the German Nazi regime and came to the US during the first half of the 20th century, while also hearing from living artists who are facing the challenge of relocation to the United States and its transformative effect on individual identity today. How do artists, with their particular set of sensibilities respond in their work and life to migration and exile?

Speaker Bios: 

Yasi Alipour is an Iranian artist/writer based in Brooklyn. Her tactile works on paper uses folding to explore mathematics as a language, with all the historical, social, political, mortal, and embodied ramifications any language holds. Alipour is currently working on a traveling solo exhibition at 12 Gates Gallery (Philadelphia, PA) and Bavan gallery (Tehran, Iran). Her work has been exhibited in the United States and internationally. Her writing and interviews have appeared in the Brooklyn Rail, Spot Magazine, Asia Contemporary Art Week, Photograph Magazine, Volume One/Triple Canopy, and the Dear Dave. Alipour holds an MFA from Columbia University and is a faculty member at Columbia University, Parsons, and SVA.

Rebecca Erbelding, PhD, is the author of Rescue Board: The Untold Story of America’s Efforts to Save the Jews of Europe (Doubleday, 2018), which won the National Jewish Book Award for excellence in writing based on archival research. She holds a PhD in American history from George Mason University and has been a historian, curator, and archivist at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum since 2003. She served as the lead historian on the Museum’s special exhibition, Americans and the Holocaust.

Ori Z Soltes, PhD, teaches at Georgetown University across the disciplines of theology, art history, philosophy and politics. He is the former Director and Curator of the B’nai B’rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum where he curated some 80 exhibitions. He is the author of several hundred articles and catalogue essays, and the author or editor of 25 books, including The Ashen Rainbow: The Holocaust and the Arts; Symbols of Faith: How Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Art Draw from the Same Source; and Tradition and Transformation: Three Millennia of Jewish Art and Architecture (second edition forthcoming). He is the co-curator of “Identity, Art and Migration” (online, 2022).

David Stern is a German-born American figurative painter, whose work is rooted in the European figurative tradition and informed by American Abstract Expressionism. His artistic career spans 40 years and the main theme/motive of his work has been and continues to be the human condition. He has widely exhibited in Europe and the US and is represented in public and private collections in the United States, Europe and Asia, among them The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum, New York; the National Museum, Poznan (Poland); and the State Art Collections (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Kupferstich-Kabinett), Dresden (Germany).


Jeremy Cohan, PhD, is a sociologist and director of the Honors Program at SVA, where he teaches on politics, sociology, philosophy and art. He organizes the Art & Politics lecture series and is active in local politics. He has presented at the NYU Economic and Political Sociology Workshop, the American Sociological Association, the International Sociological Association, the Social Theory Workshop at the University of Chicago, the ASU and UFABC São Paulo Global Seminar, and the Cultural Studies Association Annual Convention. Recent publications include “The Two Souls of Marcuse’s One-Dimensional Man” in Catalyst.

Rachel Stern is the Founding Director and CEO of The Fritz Ascher Society for Persecuted, Ostracized and Banned Art. Born and educated in Germany, she worked for ten years in the Department of Drawings and Prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. She has organized numerous art exhibitions and has written extensively about art. She is a 2017 recipient of the Hans and Lea Grundig Prize, in recognition of her exhibition and book The Expressionist Fritz Ascher (Berlin, 1893-1970) (Cologne: Wienand 2016), and has authored or edited numerous publications since. She has recently co-curated “Curtain Up for Emmy Rubensohn! Music Patron from Leipzig” (Gewandhaus zu Leipzig (Germany), 2021) and “Identity, Art and Migration” (online, 2022).

For guests outside of New York City or otherwise seriously indisposed, participation online can be reserved. In-person attendance strongly encouraged.

School of Visual Arts (SVA) has been a leader in the education of artists, designers and creative professionals for more than seven decades. With a faculty of distinguished working professionals, dynamic curriculum and an emphasis on critical thinking, SVA is a catalyst for innovation and social responsibility.

This event celebrates the launch of the online exhibition “Identity, Art and Migration” which tells a distinctly human story of how circumstance impacts selfhood. Through the lens of seven artist case studies and interdisciplinary scholarship, we investigate US immigration of European refugees during the first half of the 20th century: Anni Albers, Friedel Dzubas, Eva Hesse, Rudi Lesser, Lily Renee, Arthur Szyk and Fritz Ascher. The exhibition underscores the transformative effect of forced migration on individual identity.
The online exhibition is generously sponsored by the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in New York.

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