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Jul 4, 2016 1:57 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Linda Stein's Manhattan Exhibition 'Holocaust Heroes' Highlights Bravery and Empowerment

The Anne Frank tapestry is one of ten Heroic Tapestries in Linda Stein's 'Holocaust Heroes' exhibition.
Jul 4, 2016 1:57 PM

Linda Stein, an artist-activist from East Hampton, is currently showcasing her traveling exhibition “Holocaust Heroes: Fierce Females—Tapestries and Sculpture by Linda Stein,” to celebrate gender equality at the Flomenhaft Gallery in Manhattan.

As part of the arts organization Have Art: Will Travel!, which Ms. Stein founded, this three-part exhibition features 10 female heroes from the Holocaust. Each hero is represented by a tapestry that tells her story and shines light on her courageous acts during a time of severe atrocity. It is open to the public through July 14, and by appointment until August 2.

“I did research and found that these women were unbelievable,” Ms. Stein explained. “I want to help introduce these 10 heroes—most of whom nobody’s ever heard of. People only know of Anne Frank.”

In addition to the Heroic Tapestries, this exhibition consists of 20 “Spoon to Shell” sculptures meant to highlight sexual abuse, and one “Protector” sculpture with a Wonder Woman shadow to symbolize a brave defender. It also includes an educational program and interactive events such as lectures and performances.

Ms. Stein’s current art represents human empowerment and focuses on a person’s ability to overcome bullying and oppression. During the educational portion of the exhibition, she discusses with the younger audience what it means to be a hero.

“I created the four B’s: Bully, Bullied, Bystander and Brave Upstander,” she said. “If you’re walking on the street and see a homeless person, would you stop and look? Would you take the role of the bystander and walk on? Or do we try to intervene in some way?”

She said that she used to create abstract art while working in Manhattan, but after the events of September 11, 2011, caused her to take a year-long hiatus, her work later became more figurative and concrete.

“My work has always been about protection,” Ms. Stein said. “It was a natural progression to go from this kind of figurative work about protection to the Holocaust, where protection was in such short supply.”

This stop in Manhattan marks the halfway point of Ms. Stein’s exhibition tour. Since September 2015, she and her project have traveled to Miami and Boca Raton, Florida; and Santa Barbara, California. She will later visit Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Dallas, Texas; and Portland, Maine. Although she travels often and works at her Tribeca art studio, she still manages to spend most of her weekends at her East Hampton home working on her art.

Ms. Stein edited and helped publish an 84-page, full-color exhibition book that includes a collection of essays that tell the stories of the Holocaust Heroes. Feminist icon Gloria Steinem wrote the foreword for the book. She is an honorary board member for Have Art: Will Travel! along with others such as Hamptons residents Merle Hoffman and Patti Kenner.

The book, with the same name as the exhibition, can be purchased for $35 at the Flomenhaft Gallery or on the publisher’s website at shop.oldcitypublishing.com.

At 104 years old, Ruth Gruber is the only one of the Holocaust Heroes still alive today. During World War II, this American photojournalist and foreign correspondent had successfully completed a special mission to accompany 1,000 Jewish refugees aboard a ship from Italy to upstate New York. Her dedication to helping others was what inspired Ms. Stein to include her in the exhibition.

Ms. Gruber has published 18 books and given countless lectures across the country, including many lectures in the Hamptons. Her good friend Ms. Kenner, who wrote Ms. Gruber’s essay in the exhibition book, made a film about her life that was featured in the Hamptons International Film Festival.

From July 11 to 14, Ms. Stein will host a summer institute at her Tribeca studio to teach art educators about social justice art education through her 
“Holocaust Heroes” exhibition. She said she hopes to eventually expand it out to the Hamptons to service her local community.

“Holocaust Heroes: Fierce Females—Tapestries and Sculptures by Linda Stein” is open to the public at the Flomenhaft Gallery in Chelsea, Manhattan, until July 14, or by appointment only until August 2.

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