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Coexistence as seen by world-famous artists, designers


Panels from CoExistence

How can art move someone to be more accepting of differences among people?  Can what we see change how we feel?

Those are the questions that drove The Museum on the Seam in Jerusalem to hold an international competition among world-famous artists and designers, asking them to interpret the theme of coexistence.

The resulting exhibit, COEXISTENCE: The Art of Living Together, was created as striking way for visual art to create a call to action for social change. The works, selected by a prestigious international jury, became a large outdoor exhibition that toured the world between 2001 and 2010.

The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center is currently displaying a smaller version of the original exhibition.  Some panels of the exhibit show what coexistence could and should mean; others explore visual reflections on the state of intolerance.

American graphic designer Seymour Chwast deconstructs the human face in a whimsical reminder of sameness and difference, while Shigeo Fukuda, Japan’s consummate visual communicator, creates a new interpretation of da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.  Each panel is accompanied by written reflections that enhance the mood and the message: a striking pose of intertwined hands by Israeli photographer Yossi Lemel is matched with Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech; a graphic describing the brutality of racism fashioned by German designer Lex Drawinski is perfectly pared with Maya Angelou poem “And Still I Rise.”

Pam Kancher, executive director of the Holocaust Center, says the importance of the exhibit and its message should not be underestimated. “One of the greatest lessons of the Holocaust,” she says, “is the importance of living with differences and to respecting our neighbors.  Clearly, we will never achieve peaceful coexistence until we understand and confront our misunderstandings and prejudices.  This exhibit is a wonderful way to open that conversation and keep it going.”

The exhibit will be on display at the Center until Sept. 1. There is no admission charge to visit the Center or to attend its general programs. 


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