WSU's Annual Holocaust Commemoration Will Explore “Art as a Mirror”

OGDEN, Utah – Organizers of Weber State University’s 2008 Holocaust Commemoration have planned a series of presentations and discussions examining how art reflects, depicts and draws attention to the atrocities of genocide.

This year’s commemoration, “Art as a Mirror,” will feature presentations by Sharon Siskin, an artist whose work touches on family, faith, multiculturalism, and environmental and social issues, and Donald Byrd, choreographer and director. Other events include a screening of the film “The Devil Came on Horseback,” and a discussion of the book “Maus,” led by WSU English professor and Honors Director Judy Elsley and visual arts professor Angelika Pagel.

“We want to encourage students to reflect on the atrocities of the Nazi Holocaust, and at the same time remind them that genocide is still happening in the world today,” said Amanda Sowerby, co-chair of the 2008 Holocaust Commemoration Committee.

The film “The Devil Came on Horseback,” exposes the tragedy occurring in Darfur, Sudan, where the current government is systematically executing a plan to rid the province of its black African citizens. The screening will be held April 2 at 7 p.m. in the Shepherd Union Wildcat Theater, with a student panel discussion afterward featuring members of the WSU STAND chapter—part of the Student Anti-Genocide Coalition.

On April 3, at 11 a.m., Siskin will present “Art as a Mirror: Explorations of Art, Identity and Culture,” in the Stewart Library Hetzel-Hoellein Room.

In his lecture, “Finding Inspiration in Lives Cut Short by the Holocaust,” Byrd will discuss how music composed by a Holocaust victim inspired him to create a contemporary dance that addresses oppression, prejudice and persecution in today’s world. Byrd’s presentation will be April 7 at 2:30 p.m. in the Kimball Visual Arts Center Room 143.

The commemoration activities will conclude with a book discussion of “Maus: A Survivor’s Tale,” led by Elsley and Pagel. WSU Arts & Lectures purchased and donated 50 copies of Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel for students to read this spring. The discussion will be held April 9 at 2:30 p.m. in the Stewart Library Hetzel-Hoellein Room.

All four presentations are free to the public.

The commemoration committee also sponsored a research competition leading up 
to the April activities. The goal was to get students thinking about parallels between the Nazi Holocaust and genocides during the past 40 years.

Students were encouraged to submit work in one of two categories—scholarly or creative research—that incorporated the theme of this year’s event.

The winning entry will receive a $500 award and the runner-up will receive a $250 prize. Both research projects will be featured during the commemoration activities.

For more information on this year’s presenters and a schedule of events visit

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Schedule of Events for 2008 Holocaust Commemoration

April 2: 7 p.m.: “The Devil Came on Horseback”—Shepherd Union Wildcat Theater

April 3: 11 a.m.: Sharon Siskin, “Art as a Mirror: Explorations of Art, Identity and Culture”—Stewart Library Hetzel-Hoellein Room

April 7: 2:30 p.m.: Donald Byrd, “Finding Inspiration in Lives Cut Short by the Holocaust”— Kimball Visual Arts Center Room 143

April 9: 2:30 p.m.: Judy Elsley and Angelika Page, "Reflections on Maus: A Survivor's Tale"—Stewart Library Hetzel-Hoellein Room


Amanda Sowerby, co-chair, 2008 Holocaust Commemoration Committee
801-626-7674 ·

Eric Amsel, co-chair, 2008 Holocaust Commemoration Committee
801-626-6658 ·

John Kowalewski, director of Media Relations
(801) 626-7212 •