“Into the Night.”(Julie Mauskop)
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Painting Her Grandparents, and Herself

‘Survivors’ depicts the Holocaust today

Jenny Merkin
April 12, 2010
“Into the Night.”(Julie Mauskop)

Through April 21, the Columbia/Barnard Hillel, in co-sponsorship with 3GNY, is exhibiting Julie Mauskop’s paintings of her grandparents, who survived Auschwitz, as well as her own reflections on the Holocaust. “Survivors” showcases 12 of the 24-year-old’s paintings, a video tape of her grandparents in their kitchen, and three photographs. “I am drawn to my grandparents’ spiritual journey, especially as time passes and we continue to grow,” writes Mauskop.

Mauskop’s paintings are generally large-scale and include different colors and motion. Some feature integrated photographs or dancers, as dancing is one of Mauskop’s passions. Mauskop also uses outside materials, such as the attached leaves and painted-over newspaper in her painting, “Untitled.”

Said Chanel Dubofsky, Coordinator of Social Justice and Israel Programming at the Columbia/Barnard Hillel, “[Mauskop] made an interesting connection between art and history and identity. I just think it’s compelling, because it’s very much about life and what it means to be alive, not just to have survived.” She added, “I think it’s a different way of relating to the Holocaust: How do we keep stories alive? How do we retell?”

Dubofsky was particularly impressed by how Mauskop moved out of the usual “stillness” of Holocaust art with her busy paintings: “It’s not just a photograph with a [concentration camp] number,” as she put it. Her work, Dubofsky said, reminds her of “what Faulkner says about how the goal of every artist is to arrest motion, and that’s ultimately what Jews want to do with survivors: stop time so we can learn as much as we can. But Julie’s work is about color and motion.”

Dubofsky said that “Survivors” is a complete departure from the Holocaust art Columbia/Barnard Hillel usually exhibits. “There is so much detail and there is so much to pay attention to,” described Ms. Dubofsky, “everything is really purposeful. If it were just a photo of this bubbie who is praying that would be one thing. With all the different things going on in the picture that you may not notice from afar, you get all these chances to think about what the possibilities could be within the picture.”

“Survivors” runs through April 21 at the Columbia/Barnard Hillel, 606 West 115th Street, New York, NY.

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