Peace/War, Survival/Extinction: An Artist’s Plea for Sanity

Artwork by Richard Notkin

Peace/War, Survival/Extinction:  An Artist’s Plea for Sanity is an exhibition of artwork by ceramic sculptor Richard Notkin.  On view at The Florida Holocaust Museum from March 19, 2011 – May 31, 2011, his work includes finely-crafted teapots, a tile-mural, an installation and other objects.  In his symbol-rich sculptures, Notkin provides a social commentary on the human condition, war, and man’s inhumanity to man while embracing a strong visual aesthetic.

In his art, he has had a lifelong commitment to activism.  Notkin says, “I do not harbor a self-delusional – or messianic – notion that I will make the teapot or sculpture that saves the world, nor do I expect to see universal peace achieved within my lifetime.  I believe that each artist contributes his or her life’s work to a collective and universal endeavor – similar to which [artists] contributed to the construction of a Renaissance cathedral…The deep belief that these artisans were contributing to something greater than themselves sustained them.”

A centerpiece of the exhibition is a large installation titled, Legacy, where he mounds over 1000 ceramic ears of different sizes on the floor.  The piling of he ears makes reference to the piles of hair, eyeglasses, shoes and bodies which were found at the liberation of Nazi concentration camps in 1945.  According to the artist, Legacy explores issues such as the ear as “listener to the outside world, cycles of life and death, evolution and survival.”

An exhibition catalog is available in The Florida Holocaust Museum gift shop.