Karen Gunderson

JEWISH HERALD-VOICE: 'Between Darkness and Light' Exhibition To Open at HMH: March 21, 2001

While most nations complied with the Nazi’ demands to deport their Jewish citizens, the people of Denmark and Bulgaria managed to resist the Nazis and save the vast majority of their Jews.
An exhibition opening at Holocaust Museum Houston (HMH), 5401 Caroline at 7:330 pm, Thursday, Mar. 29, will explore the rescue of Denmark’s 7,500 Jews and Bulgaria’s 60,000 Jews.  Titled “Between Darkness and Light,” the exhibition features photographs by Judith Ellis Glickman and paintings and drawings by Karen Gunderson.
Both artists use intense darkness and illumination to create evocative images that convey the moral courage exhibited by individual rescuers.  Glickman reconstructs Denmark’s resistance and response to Nazi oppression through images of shorelines and seascapes, as well as hiding places and the rescuers and survivors themselves.
Through subtle manipulations of the photographic process, she captures the drama of the overnight rescue of the Danish Jews. One particularly stark image shows a stormy, night sea with the Nakkehoved Lighthouse glimmering in the distance.
The Danes had to slip their Jewish citizens past the famed lighthouse which the Nazis used as a lookout tower.  Her photographic series covering the Danish rescue is organized by Humanity in Action Inc.

The curator there said the group didn’t want documentary images to tell this story, and Glickman succeeded in capturing the spirit of the Danish people and imparting a strong emotional content.

Gunderson’s work also evokes a strong emotional response.  Most of her pieces are done in charcoal, chalk and black paint, and much of it is monumental in scale.  One piece, “Night Passage to Sweden,” is 11 feet long.  Of special note is an environmental piece depicting the four navigational directions as if looking out from inside one of the small fishing boats used to ferry Danish Jews to safety.
The four works will be installed in a small enclosure, actually giving the viewer the sensation of being inside a boat on that fateful night in 1943.

Gunderson also painted Bulgarian citizens who protested and demonstrated against anti-Semitic laws in their country can actually helped to influence the government to delay the deportation of the Jews as demanded by the Nazis.  She also depicts King Boris III of Bulgaria, who defied his Nazi allies in several key areas, including the surrendering of his nation’s Jews.

Her painting depicts the darkness of his collaboration with the Nazis, while at the same time evoking his humanity and caring for all his citizens.

The show will be on view in the Josef and Edith Mineberg Gallery through July 31.  For information, call the museum, 713/942-8000, ext. 112.  A related public program, “The Rescue of Bulgaria’s Jews,” will come to the museum June 3.