Years after its first showing, Giles Gallery is hosting a Holocaust Exhibit focused on survivors living in Kentucky at EKU for one month.
The exhibit is open to the public and there is no charge to get in. The exhibit will follow several stories of Holocaust survival who traveled across the Atlantic to make Kentucky their permanent home.
The exhibit is called, “This is Home Now: Kentucky’s Holocaust Survivors” and will be showing from September 25 through October 25.
The exhibit debuted in 2005 at the Lexington History Museum.
Arwen Donahue, a Kentucky artist and oral historian, and Rebecca Gayle Howell, a poet and editor, had the idea to interview Holocaust survivors together in a completely different format.
Howell took photographs of the survivors and Donahue designed the text panels, which were parts taken from the oral history interviews she had previously done.
Their photos and full interviews were later published in Donahue’s book, “This Is Home Now: Kentucky’s Holocaust Survivors Speak.”
Jacqueline Kohl, an English professor, received a grant through The Olga Lengyl Insitute in 2016 to revive the exhibit.
The Olga Lengyl Institute, named after a Holocaust survivor, is dedicated to training teachers in the Holocaust and other social justice issues that are crucial.
Olga Lengyel was a Hungarian surgical assistant born in 1908. In 1944 she, her parents, husband and two sons were forced into a cattle car and deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Olga was the only member of her family to survive. She wrote a memoir about her experiences in Auschwitz, moved to the United States and dedicated her life to memoralizing those lost in the concentration campus, founding the Memorial Library.
Kohl said she began to become very interested in the Holocaust and its survivors after she left New York City.
“I got very interested in researching the Holocaust,” Kohl said. “I know that we can continue to learn from what has happened in the past and use it for good in the future.”
Kohl also said that with all of the recent events dealing with white supremacy, the United States needs this exhibit now more than ever to teach a sense of “compassion and understanding.”
One of the main reasons this exhibit was started was because of an incident in Kentucky, Kohl said.
A teacher at Tates Creek High School had denied, in class, that the Holocaust ever happened.
It was at that point that many Holocaust survivors who reside in Kentucky came out and shared their story with more people.
“A lot of people didn’t even know that there were Holocaust survivors living in Kentucky and many of them were not getting to share their story with people,” Kohl said.
There are not many Holocaust survivors left in the world because of how long ago the genocide occured.
“It is very important that these people tell their story while they can and that we listen,” Kohl said.
It is important for people, young people especially to be a part of this experience.
“I think this is an amazing opportunity, especially for people my age because it reminds us that we have it really good now,” said Brandi Dooley, 19, a sophomore from Corbin.
“I’m interested in going because I think it will teach me a lot,” Dooley said.
The opening reception at the gallery runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 4.
There will be a talk from 7 to 7:45 p.m. with Rosenberg and Donahue. On the next night, Thursday,
October 5, the guests can view the exhibit and hear a poetry reading, as well as a Q & A session with Howell and James Still, writer-in-residence at Hindman Settlement School.
The gallery is open from 7 to 8:30 p.m. with the reading at 7:30 p.m.
The opening reception on Wednesday October 4, includes a talk by John Rosenberg, one of the Kentucky Holocaust survivors featured in the exhibit.
However, the actual exhibit is open right now for anyone to attend.
For more information about the Holocaust exhibit, contact Jacqueline Kohl at 859-935-5153.
To arrange group tours or other times to view the exhibit, contact Gallery Curator Esther Randall at email@example.com.