Finding Home: Shine the Light, Nazareth takes part in week-long arts event for refugee awareness

Published March 16, 2017

Nazareth College will join the Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Rochester, DEEP Arts, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester March 23-April 1, 2017 in a weeklong multi-arts event titled FINDING HOME: SHINE THE LIGHT, which will explore the current and historical aspects of refugee displacement and the idea of finding home.

The week begins at the JCC on Thursday, March 23, with Shine the Light: Fine Art Glass Exhibition featuring installation “Todesmarche Revisited” by Laura Donefer, honoring those who perished or were displaced during the Holocaust. The opening reception is at 6 p.m. with an installation artist talk at 6:30 p.m. The JCC is located at 1200 Edgewood Drive, Rochester.

Beginning the week of Monday, March 27, Nazareth College hosts an outdoor photo exhibit titled "Take me to Jermany" by German artist/photographer Charlotte Schmitz.  The photographer is also holding a Wednesday, March 29, 7:30 p.m. discussion in the Linehan Chapel of Nazareth’s Golisano Academic Center. It is free and open to the public. Nazareth College is located at 4245 East Avenue, Rochester, N.Y., 14618.  The photo exhibit will be installed outside near the walkway between Golisano Academic Center and Peckham Hall on campus and it will be up until Wednesday, April 5.

“Nazareth College is honored to be the temporary home of an outdoor photography installation featuring German artist/photographer Charlotte Schmitz, who introduces her audience to the faces and stories of Syria's displaced refugees,” said Nevan Fisher, Nazareth College’s Executive Director of the Center for International Education. “Her photographs feature young and old, men, women, children, and families, all struggling to build new lives in safer surroundings far from their Syrian homeland.  In light of the current national policy debate about immigrants and their place in the American Experience, this installation is all the more relevant, for it raises our consciousness and spurs the viewer into deeper reflection, and hopefully, into action.”

Schmitz provided each person with a pen and a copy of their photograph, asking them to share one sentiment or phrase that they wanted the rest of the world to know about them. That combination of image and text, with its accompanying translation, makes this a powerful exhibit. It forces the viewer to confront Syrian refugees not as abstractions, but as individual faces and stories of suffering and hope.

Schmitz said this about her project, "In 2015 many people fleeing war took the dangerous journey from Turkey to Greece searching for a new home. But Europe decided that enough people had come to their continen. Immoral and illegal deals were being made between the EU, Turkey, and other countries to prevent them from crossing borders. The EU didn't handle the crisis together, but instead many walls were erected, which were once torn down. A young refugee in Greece wrote »I see only Humans, not Humanity« on his picture, which explains the crisis in just one sentence. This project is about telling a story and making it's characters co-authors."

Charlotte Schmitz grew up in the cultural environment of the Danish minority near Flensburg. After an exchange year in Ecuador, she graduated from a Danish secondary school. She studied photojournalism and documentary photography at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hanover. Currently she is living in Berlin and Istanbul.

On March 30, Nazareth College will also host a theatrical presentation of Finding Home: Shine the Light (formerly Moses Man) by Deborah Haber and Casey Filiaci, at 7:30 p.m. in the Linehan Chapel of the Golisano Academic Center.

“The Moses Man (now: Finding Home: Shine the Light) journey started 79 years ago in 1938, when Hitler invaded Vienna, Austria,” said Deborah Haber, Finding Home: Shine the Light writer and presenter. “It is the story of my parents and how they traveled an impossible, nine-year journey throughout Europe, Cyprus, Palestine, and Africa before finally finding hope, freedom, and home in America. For them, a pathway to “finding home” was relentlessly obstructed and their journey’s end seemed unobtainable. Unfortunately, this is now the plight of millions of desperate, displaced people in the world today who are suffering with little or no hope of respite. Finding Home: Shine the Light is our effort to illuminate a “gateway” to hope and a world in which “never ends” could truly become “never again.”

For More Information

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See CNN story about Photo Exhibit

Nazareth College’s academic strengths cross an unusually broad spectrum of 60 majors, including education, health and human services, management, the fine arts, music, theater, math and science, foreign languages, and the liberal arts. The coeducational, religiously independent, classic campus in a charming suburb of Rochester, N.Y., challenges and supports 2,200 undergrads and 700 graduate students. Nazareth is recognized nationally for its Fulbright global student scholars and commitment to civic engagement. Rigorous programs, an uncommon arts and sciences core, experiential learning, career skills, and a global focus prepare graduates for not just one job, but for their life’s work.