Portraits of Europeans who publicly opposed anti-Semitism and genocide in the 20th century, many of whom lost their lives because of their writings and actions, are on exhibit through Oct. 16 in the Wright Gallery, located on the second floor of the Langford Architecture Center’s Building A on the Texas A&M campus.
The paintings, by Robert Schiffhauer, associate professor of architecture, are part of his “Torchbearers” series that honors, he said, “those who light our way towards just societies that build up institutions for racial equality, freedom of speech, human rights, healthy environments and wise use of resources of land and sea.”
His previous “Torchbearers” exhibits have included portraits of luminaries from black history such as Martin Luther King Jr. and the late Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Texas A&M professor Charles Gordone.
A reception for Schiffhauer will be held in the Wright Gallery 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24.
The current exhibit includes World War II figures Claus von Stauffenberg, executed in 1944 after his leading role in a failed attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler was revealed, Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans, guillotined in 1943 for distributing antiwar leaflets, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a theologian and dissident, executed for his involvement in a Hitler assassination plot and opposition to Nazi genocidal persecution of Jews.
“They sought to bring about love, not hate, light, not darkness and peace, not war,” said Schiffhauer of the dissidents and activists in the exhibit. “Though they lived in the shadows of death they feared no evil and taught us to be aware of it. Their battle of truth to power is ours now to carry forward.”
Also in the Wright Gallery are portraits of Raphael Lemkin of Poland, Johannes Lepsius and Armin Wegner of Germany and Franz Werfel of Austria, who were born in the latter part of the 19th century. Together through writing and photography they shined a light on the Armenian genocide in 1915 and helped propel genocide from a concept into a category of international law.
“Their efforts, through art and reason and law, brought light, truth and beauty to mankind,” said Schiffhauer. “To escape imprisonment, torture and death, they paid the price of exile from their homelands.”