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Holocaust Survivor Artwork on Display at President's House April 19

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Samuel Bak, Young Vilne, 2002, oil on canvas, 24" x 18". Exhibited at the Museum of Art in 2006.

Paintings by Holocaust survivor Samuel Bak will be on display at the residence of President Mark Huddleston and Emma Bricker Thursday, April 19, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. during an open house. Bak, born in Poland in 1933, will receive an honorary degree at this year's commencement.

Bak was 8 years old when the Nazis invaded Poland and herded the Jewish population into a ghetto. Already a talented painter, his first art exhibit was held in that ghetto in 1942. When his family was forced into a labor camp, he and his mother escaped and, with the help of a Catholic nun, hid in the attic of a Benedictine convent. They were the only members of his family to survive the Holocaust.

Bak began his career as an abstract painter but came to realize he had a story to tell. The Holocaust scholar Lawrence Langer has argued that Bak ranks with Felix Nussbaum as among the most important Holocaust artists. His work has been shown in museums and galleries across Europe, the United States, and Israel, including Yad Vashem, the official memorial to Holocaust victims in Jerusalem.

Recently a collection of Bak's work was donated to Facing History and Ourselves, a Boston-based organization dedicated to providing educational materials regarding the Holocaust, intolerance, and genocide. These paintings now constitute a traveling exhibition.