A Forest Grows in the Synagogue: Reimagining the Jewish Galician Landscape Through Sculpture
In western Ukraine few obvious features of Galicia’s Jewish culture remain, as the Holocaust effectively erased Jews from the region’s human geography. However, remnants of Jewish culture can still be seen in the Ukrainian landscape. Rachel Stevens’ Fulbright will focus on creating sculptures based on these sites and sharing them with Ukrainian and American audiences. Her proposal is an artistic embodiment of a Hebrew term, tikkun olam, often understood as a call to repair the world.
Stevens will engage in a qualitative geographic exploration of former eastern Galicia in order to locate and emotionally respond to the region’s rich, but visually cryptic, Jewish history. She will divide her time between fieldwork in the towns and countryside, and studio work in Lviv, where she will also collaborate with the Center of Urban History of East Central Europe and the Lviv National Academy of Arts. Through her research, she will begin a body of artwork that will serve as a secondary witness to the Holocaust. Through her interactions with the landscape, architecture, and community members, she will visually transcribe the vernacular fragments of Galicia’s rich Jewish history into new artworks. These shards may survive as ruined synagogues, cemeteries, monuments, land use patterns, forest patches, artworks, archival records, memories, and mental maps. The latter will be of particular significance, as cognitive cartography – how regions persist within people’s imaginations long after they disappear from atlases – will be a focus of the project.