The Center for Jewish History and jMUSE will present the inspirational new photography exhibition Invited to Life: Holocaust Survivors in America in the Selz Foundation Gallery at the Center for Jewish History (15 West 16th Street) during Jewish American Heritage Month.
The exhibition, which opens May 17 to the public, features the work of B.A. Van Sise and is presented in honor of Jack Waksal, a Holocaust survivor. In a project that would span four years and take him across the country, Van Sise set out to document the lives of Holocaust survivors in the United States. Invited to Life: Holocaust Survivors in America features the photographic portraits that he created. This work offers the viewer a fresh opportunity to engage with the unique stories of survivors who built new lives in the U.S. The photographs also reveal the wide diversity of American Jewish experience and the many ways in which individuals and communities have practiced resilience, remembrance, creativity, and connection.
“They are mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters who survived the unthinkable, yet had the strength and courage to come to the United States with the dream of creating a new and better life for themselves and their families,” said Bernard J. Michael, President & CEO, Center for Jewish History. “This exhibition captures their incredible spirit and optimism. We are proud to honor them by sharing their inspiring stories.”
The exhibition experience, designed by Upswell, includes not only selected photographic prints, but also projections of the dozens of photographs that Van Sise produced. It offers perspectives on the stories of Holocaust survivors including Engelina Billauer, Saul Dreier, Julius Eisenstein, Sally Frishberg, Betty Grebenschikoff, Alex Gross, Allan Hall, David Lenga, Toby Levy, Vernon Mosheim, Werner Reich, Toni & John Rinde, Irving Roth, Rabbi Arthur Schneier, Leon Sherman, Sam Silberberg, Martha Sternbach, Mireille Taub, Doris & Meir Usherovitz, Jack Waksal, and Marion Wiesel.
“In its focus on survival, personal and communal reinvention, and the vast range of American Jewish experiences, Invited to Life is in keeping with the important work of the Center for Jewish History,” said Michael S. Glickman, Founder & CEO of jMUSE. “The Center’s exhibitions and programs highlight under-studied aspects of Jewish history, expand public understanding of the diversity of Jewish life, and engage public audiences in exploring the contemporary relevance of the past.”
This presentation of Invited to Life is made possible by the Samuel D. Waksal Foundation, with the generous support of the David Berg Foundation and the Stefany and Simon Bergson Foundation.
B.A. Van Sise is an author and photographic artist focused on the intersection between language and the visual image. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Center for Creative Photography and the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, as well as in group exhibitions at the Peabody Essex Museum, the Museum of Photographic Arts, the Los Angeles Center of Photography, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. A number of his portraits of American poets are in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Van Sise is an Independent Book Publisher Awards gold medalist, and his Invited to Life exhibition is a 2021 Prix de la Photographie Paris award-winner.
Invited to Life, the book, is forthcoming in September 2022.