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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Artist displays her ‘Blood Memory’

Published: January 31, 2014
Section: Arts, Etc., Featured

The presence of collective memory finds a tangible place in artist Lisa Rosowsky’s latest collection. Currently featured in the Kniznick Gallery of the Women’s Studies Research Center, Rosowsky’s exhibit, “Blood Memory,” offers a narrative on her experiences as a “second generation” member of the Holocaust. Exploring memorial and lost family, “Blood Memory” not only highlights her family’s story, but also presents the artist’s way of reconciling the often painful memories that haunt Holocaust survivors.

Rosowsky and the members of her era are those born from the second generation after the Holocaust—they are the children of Holocaust survivors.

“I did not directly suffer or even witness the horrors of the Holocaust,” Rosowsky said, “but they live on in me nonetheless.” In the introductory wall description of the exhibit, Rosowsky continued to write, “They live on in a lifetime of terrifying dreams; in the nameless fears of my childhood; in the way I always scope out a new room when I enter, looking for good hiding places. This is blood memory: the knowledge that cannot possibly be handed down, but is.”

“Blood Memory” brings together a variety of media and disciplines to share a story of family and survival. One particular element that Rosowsky used through the exhibit was textiles. Transforming simple fabric, Rosowsky used the fragility of cloth to set her piece “The Raitzyns.” Using silk-screen to print the pictures of the Raitzyn family members, Rosowsky constructs a quilt out of these printed panels. One of the central squares lists the names of each Raitzyn shown, and integrated into the panels are gloves that once belonged to the Raitzyns. Undoubtedly, in designing the piece to be quilt-like, “The Raitzyns” evokes powerful connotation to family linkage and ties that continues to bridge Rosowsky to the historical past.

Another powerful piece was “Left.” With a title playing on the ideal of what and who remains, “Left” is a photo-collage of the artist’s left hand. Inspired by a “lifelong series of dreams about my left arm and hand,” Rosowsky uses stripes of words to heighten the narrative tone of “Left.”

One of the most striking artworks in the gallery is Rosowsky’s “Angel of Auschwitz.” Suspended from the ceiling, the angel’s looming presence draws an observer’s eye to the piece. Draped in a long and delicate white dress that extends to the ground, the “Angel of Auschwitz” presents a hauntingly beautiful and eerie memento to a dark past.

Rosowsky, a graduate of the MFA Graphic Design Program at Yale University, currently teaches at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. The artist is scheduled to deliver a talk on Monday, Feb. 10 in the Kniznick Gallery. The exhibit will run until Mar. 7.

Rosowsky’s keen eye on graphics and ability to harmoniously marry multiple media of art greatly attest to not only her skill as an artist, but also to the qualities that make “Blood Memory” a uniquely personal and memorable exhibit. Rosowsky’s gift of tapping into the visceral feelings of sadness, loss and grief makes “Blood Memory” an exhibit worth visiting.