On June 25th, 2022 I held an open studio to share works created for my 2021-22 Santa Monica Artist Project Fellowship:
Charlotte Salomon and Eva Hesse: Genius, Trauma and the Invention of New Forms of Visual Art in Response to the Holocaust
Employing research, artistic production, public engagement, the project investigates, compares and links the lives and the groundbreaking work of Jewish women artists Charlotte Salomon and Eva Hesse on the basis of their shared experience of trauma and loss through the Jewish Holocaust, the remarkably similar intimate traumas of their families (both lost their mothers to suicide), their invention of new forms of visual art through which I posit they respond to and attempt to cope with these traumas, their early deaths, and the emotional involvement of each with a charismatic and powerful male artist who proved to be influential, even pivotal in the development of their work and artistic/creative breakthroughs.
Themes of the project include being a woman artist, being a Jewish women artist, being an artist during or affected by a profoundly turbulent time in history, the relationship between internal and external turbulence and the creative act and the transformative power of the creative process: the triumph of the imagination as opposed to the triumph of the will.
On a broader scale, the project examines, through these two geniuses, ways in which the creative process can transform traumatic pasts, and how trauma can elicit the creation of new forms, voices and materials that outlast their makers and continue to reverberate throughout the ages, inspiring posterity.
As part of my Fellowship project commitment, I created a series of works responding to these artists: their oeuvre, their lives, their concurrencies. I was thrilled to welcome friends, colleagues and students to share the works and say hello! (All images by Steve Hankins Photography)