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Evil: A Matter of Intent

August 16, 2017 Destination North America No Comments Email Email

Gallery image showing, the installation of a KKK King Kleagle robe and hat (circa 1940s, from the museum’s permanent collection). A Kleagle is an officer of the Klan whose main function is recruiting new members. The King Kleagle is the head of all Kleagles in a geographic area.

Evil: A Matter of Intent features the work of over thirty contemporary and modern artists addressing the many faces of inhumanity. This pertinent group show features artists hailing from around the world with diverse backgrounds, including Helene Aylon, Judith Glickman Lauder, Grace Graupe-Pillard, William Sharp, Tamar Hirschl, John Lawson, Paul Margolis, Mark Podwal, Trix Rosen, and Arthur Szyk.

Dear Stephen: We’re sending this to your group list since it’s August and some of you might be on vacation, and this subject matter is so timely and crucial. The complete backgrounder with some of the striking images is also at this link (and below if you scroll down). The 24 artists in this exhibition are from all over the world, from very diverse backgrounds. Their works confront the many faces of inhumanity and present themes that are necessary to address in today’s society. The new version of this exhibition features additional, never-before-seen poignant KKK materials that bring to light the sinister brutality of these hateful groups (including a rare, red robe from a 1940s KKK leader) from the permanent collection of the Miami Beach museum.

Evil: A Matter of Intent is currently on view at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU in South Beach. This show originated in New York, from the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion. It remains on view in Miami Beach through October 1.

Jose Lima & William Spring

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Thou Shalt Not Stand Idly By, by Ben Shahn, 1965 (lithograph). Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel once asserted that the entire ethical teachings of the Hebrew Bible could be condensed into one sentence: an excerpt from Leviticus 19:16, “Thou shalt not stand idly by while your neighbor’s blood is shed.” Shahn illustrated this admonition by depicting a white hand reaching out to raise a black hand.

Presented in Miami Beach by the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, the exhibition is on view through October 1. The museum is located at 301 Washington Avenue in the heart of South Beach’s Art Deco District, and is part of Florida International University.

As the title reminds us during these precarious times, acts of evil are premeditated and intentional, motivated by selfishness and the desire to gain at the expense of others. On loan from the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, this exhibition was curated by Laura Kruger and features more than seventy artworks that span from 1940 to the present, including mixed media paintings, works on paper, photography and sculptural works.

Watch the new video about Evil: A Matter of Intent

“Evil is not a cosmic accident, it does not just happen,” said the New York-based curator of the original version of this traveling exhibition, Laura Kruger. “Evil is a deliberate action or inaction. Evil is the violation of our common humanity.” The work of these artists shows how evil manifests in many forms including genocide, torture, slavery and fear of “the other.” The on-site design of the Miami version of this exhibition was created by Jacqueline Goldstein, the curator at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU.

Do Not Forgive Them, Oh Lord, for They Do Know What They Do, 1949, by Arthur Szyk. This image reveals the evil of the Ku Klux Klan as they torture an African-American man simply because of the color of his skin.

KKK Rally, Florida (circa 1950s)

The artists in Evil: A Matter of Intent demonstrate how evil is reinforced by indifference, bullying, cruelty and denial. Terrorist acts, murder, rape, destruction of culture and knowledge, pogroms, obliteration of cultural heritage, child abuse, poisoning of the earth and water, and murder are rampant and unceasing.

Hiroshima, A Child’s Shirt, 2005, by Leonard Meiselman (oil on canvas). A child’s shirt, intact but browned from the flames that engulfed Hiroshima when the atom bomb dropped, challenges us to reflect on the painful reminders resulting from war and its related necessary evils. Inspired by the Peace Museum in Japan’s display of such frayed, burned children’s shirts, this has become a life subject for Meiselman.

Child’s Drawing of Darfur, 2009. Bakhid was eight years old when he saw his village in Darfur being attacked and burned by Janjaweed forces on horseback and Sudanese forces in vehicles and tanks. In 2007, the organization Waging Peace traveled to refugee camps in Eastern Chad, where survivors from the “ethnic cleansing” of non-Arab, black Africans now live. The genocide of Darfur, a region in the west of Sudan, was perpetrated by the Sudanese government and Arab militias since 2003. They committed horrific crimes such as burning and bombing entire villages and gunning down families. The organization asked the children in the camps to draw memories of the vicious attacks. The International Criminal Court accepted these drawings as evidence of the crimes committed by the Sudanese government. One young artist named Aisha said: “It is very kind to send us food, but this is Africa and we are used to being hungry. What I ask is that you please take the guns away from the people who are killing us.” Courtesy of the BBC and Ryot

These are artists who refuse to remain silent despite forces of intimidation or popular beliefs

Their voices and visions are direct and distinct, forever asking the viewer what he or she would do if placed in similar situations depicted in these works of art.

Grace Graupe-Pillard’s work was featured in the recent exhibition at New York’s Cheim & Reid Gallery (The Female Gaze: Women Look at Men), and has also shown at the Aldrich Museum, the National Academy Museum and the Bass Museum.

Boy with a Gun: Saturday Night Special, 1992, andBoy with a Gun: Homeless Man, 1987, by Grace Graupe-Pillard (pastel, cut-out canvas). The artist’s powerful works call attention to the urgent need for gun control laws. In her series, Boy with a Gun (1987-1992), she suggests that a child’s game can become adult gun violence. What will it take to thwart the gun industry and stop the killing?

Their voices and visions are direct and distinct

Installation image – Boy with a Gun: Homeless Man, 1992, by Grace Graupe-Pillard.

Mark Podwal is well known for his drawings in the New York Time’s op-ed page. His work has been engraved on a Congressional Gold Medal, and is also featured in a series of decorative plates at the Metropolitan Museum.

There Arose a New King Who Knew Not Joseph, by David Wander, 2014 (mixed media). Evoking the biblical passage from Exodus 1:8, Wander ponders the repetition of history. He contrasts the collapse of the 20th-century golden age of German-Jewish culture with the enslavement of the Israelites in antiquity. As governments and political powers shift, ranging from benign and supportive to deadly, they impact the entire status of the population.

Suffer the Little Children, by William Sharp, 1940 (etching). As a soldier during World War I, Sharp witnessed war’s devastating impact on young children. This etching depicts young children, with the weary faces of old men, who were orphaned, forced to grovel, beg, and live by their wits on the open streets.

Helene Aylon’s career includes her Process Art in the 1970’s, anti-nuclear Art in the 80’s and her later G-D Project that spanned two decades. Her work can be found in collections around the world including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and Whitney Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. In the mid-sixties, she painted her iconic 16-foot mural for the synagogue library at JFK airport. View the exhibition catalogue at this link.

First They Came for ….., by Linda Soberman, 2014 (lithoprint). Soberman comments on the complicit indifference of those bystanders who witnessed evil during the Holocaust. The image of the “winking” woman whose face is covered by the quotation by Martin Niemoller, a prominent Protestant pastor and outspoken critic of Adolf Hitler, who spent seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.

This exhibition is timely and powerful,” says Susan Gladstone, the Director of the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU. “These artists tackle issues we are all confronting right now, at this juncture in history.They bring evil to light from a multitude of shadowy angles, capturing historical events and expressing outrage. They leave us, the viewers, to our own responses – and possibly to our own personal calls to action,” adds Susan Gladstone.

Gallery image – installation of Exodus II, by Tamar Hirschl, 2005 (mixed media on vinyl). This large work, with the map of France as the background, depicts the Nazis’ conquering of both land and people in their insidious march across Europe and North Africa. Hirschl builds on memories of her childhood during the Holocaust to highlight the misery and destruction that accompany imperialistic and genocidal ventures. Her work comments on the evil that continues to divide and destroy human connections.

The artists in this exhibition are:
Andi Arnowitz · Helene Aylon · Debra Band · Riva Bell ·  · Rosalyn A. Engelman · Larry S. Frankel · Grace Graupe-Pillard · Barbara Green · Debbie Teicholz Guedalia · Carol Hamoy · Tamar Hirschl · Elizabeth Langer · Judith Glickman Lauder · John Lawson · Margalit Manor · Elizabeth Langer · Ruben Malayn · Paul Margolis · Richard McBee · Leonard Meiselman · David Newman ·Jacqueline Nicholls · Hedy Pagremanski · Mark Podwal · Faith Ringold · Trix Rosen · Marilyn R. Rosenberg · Ben Shahn · William Sharp · Linda Soberman · Arthur Szyk · David Wander · Grace Bakst Wapner · Paul Weissman.

Detail – Yesterday’s Children, by Paul Weissman, 2015 (inked woodcut, lockets, photos and resin). A tour de force of printmaking techniques underlays a collage of baby pictures. These seemingly innocent children, on closer inspection, turn out to be photos of Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Kim Jong-il, Saddam Hussein, and Joseph Stalin. The backdrop woodcut depicts the chaos of destruction they caused. Are genocidal maniacs born or bred, is it nature or nurture that is to blame?

Detail – Yesterday’s Children, by Paul Weissman. Are genocidal maniacs born or bred, is it nature or nurture that is to blame?

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