ST. PETERSBURG — The Florida Holocaust Museum recently opened “Beautiful Questions: The Art of Samuel Bak,” a new outdoor exhibition, on display on the exterior of the museum, 55 Fifth St. S., St. Petersburg. This outdoor exhibit is spreading the message of hope and resilience throughout the community.
"Everyone in the world is struggling to come to terms with the feelings of unsafety and powerlessness we’ve experienced during this pandemic,” said Elizabeth Gelman, executive director of the Florida Holocaust Museum. “One of the many important lessons that Holocaust survivors have taught us is that human beings have the inner strength to move through traumatic events, that we have the ability to turn despair into hope. This exhibition gives our community a safe outdoor environment to experience the beauty of Samuel Bak’s art while exploring many of the same questions that helped him, as a Holocaust survivor, make sense of his experiences, and create resiliency and hope for himself.”
This innovative display features artist Samuel Bak, a Holocaust survivor who creates beautifully detailed and highly colorized work that pose unanswerable questions about the horrors he survived. While his art is part testimony of experience, his paintings also explore the Holocaust, society and the systems that allow atrocities and injustice to happen. Bak feels that the creation of art “could be seen as a sign of resilience.”
According to artnet, Bak is a Polish-born artist whose paintings meld Socialist Realism, Surrealism, and Cubism. His identity as a Jewish Holocaust survivor inform the ways in which he depicts images of war and contemporary culture. Bak studied painting in Munich just before emigrating to Israel in 1948. In Israel, he studied at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. Beginning in the 1960s, Bak lived in Paris, New York, and Lausanne. His works have been exhibited at the Tel Aviv Museum and the Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf.
Bak now resides and works in Boston, Massachusetts.
"As our museum doors have remained shut, we have continued to engage our community here in Tampa Bay and throughout the state through technology with a variety of virtual tours, programs and activities. However, not everyone has regular access to technology. In addition, studies have shown that the in-person experience of interacting with art is a powerful one and not easily replicated online. We see this exhibition as a small gift to our community, allowing everyone to experience art, free of charge, and be able to reflect on the questions we are all grappling with today," said Gelman.
It is easy to stay engaged with the FHM online through the museum's virtual tour, virtual resources, online curriculum, collections, Holocaust survivor testimonies, and on its social media pages Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
One of the largest Holocaust museums in the country, and one of three nationally accredited Holocaust museums, the Florida Holocaust Museum honors the memory of millions of men, women and children who suffered or died in the Holocaust. The FHM is dedicated to teaching members of all races and cultures the inherent worth and dignity of human life in order to prevent future genocides.
For additional information, visit www.TheFHM.org.