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DU professor’s artwork accepted into Holocaust Art Museum

The New Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem has accepted four portraits drawn by DU art Professor Deb Howard, including a drawing of Holocaust survivor Arthur Stern. Photo: file

Four portraits drawn by Deborah Howard, associate professor of art and art history, were accepted into the permanent collection at the New Holocaust Art Museum in Jerusalem.

The museum is part of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. It houses some 10,000 works and according to the museum is the largest and most wide-ranging Holocaust collection in the world.

“This means more to me than anything I’ve ever done career-wise,” Howard says.

Howard began drawing portraits of Holocaust survivors several years ago after she gave her students an assignment to draw a series of three portraits. One of her students, who was Japanese, chose to draw a series of portraits of Asian people because she felt artists depicted them the same. Howard asked the student who she felt looked the same; her answer was old people.
Howard disagreed and in that moment realized she should do portraits of Holocaust survivors.

“I am tired of people seeing them as victims, so in the drawings I tried to give them some strength and dignity,” she says.

As she met the survivors over a five-year period Howard was pleased to find that many didn’t look stereotypically Jewish.

“I want the viewer to identify with the person in the drawing, not the stereotype,” Howard says.

Howard started with one person and through word of mouth has drawn 25 child survivors. The entire work is titled “Portraits of Child Holocaust Survivors.”

Howard traveled to Israel to visit Yad Vashem and meet museum members. The curator selected four of her portraits to go into the permanent collection. Howard hopes to travel to Israel in December to deliver the drawings in person.

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