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Usdan’s ‘Hope’ Wins Top Prize in Holocaust Memorial Center Art Competition

Lucy Gutman, Rochelle Morgan (holding the prize certificate) and Rita Kurz, in front of the prizewinning work at the May 18 awards ceremonies. Credit: Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts
Lucy Gutman, Rochelle Morgan (holding the prize certificate) and Rita Kurz, in front of the prizewinning work at the May 18 awards ceremonies. Credit: Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts

Students from Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts in Wheatley Heights took first place in the 2014 student art competition at the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center in Glen Cove.

Each spring, the Holocaust memorial center holds competitions on a theme of social justice, tolerance, and respect for diversity, where students can showcase their creative talents.

This year’s winning piece, "Hope," is a multi-panelled artwork created by three classes of visual art students at Usdan. The work was designed and built during the summer of 2013 at the arts day camp, and was conceived as a visual metaphor for the chronology of events that precipitated the Holocaust and its aftermath, according to a news release.   The Usdan winning prize, in the Multi-Media/Still category, was awarded at the Center on Sunday.

Usdan Art Department Chair Rochelle Morgan, a child of Holocaust survivors, was instrumental to the project. Back in August, her mother, Lucy Gutman, and aunt, Rita Kurz, spoke and were interviewed by the student artists about their experiences in concentration camps. The students – all from the tri-state area – wondered how people survive horrific life events but still maintain dignity, integrity and compassion. Next, students sought the appropriate medium and method to best respond to this question. They wanted their artwork to pay tribute to two women who, in the face of extraordinary abominations, managed not only to salvage their existence but to subsequently live full and productive lives in New York.

The result is a large lucite "box" of approximately six feet in length, painted on both sides by students who depicted scenes that bring the sisters' story to life.

Each spring, the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center offers competitions for students centered on a theme of social justice, tolerance, and respect for diversity. The competitions offer students the opportunity to showcase their creative talents. Winning entries are exhibited at the Center and photographed for inclusion in its Competition Journal.

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