It’s been 74 years since the end of World War II, and the population of Holocaust survivors still with us to share their stories is only getting smaller. To keep their stories alive, an art installation coming to the center of the Pitt campus will honor survivors from our area — serving as both a powerful reminder of history and a compelling message about the University’s commitment to combating hatred of all kinds.
From Oct. 18 to Nov. 15, the pathway from the Cathedral of Learning to Heinz Memorial Chapel will be filled with 60 life-size portraits of Holocaust survivors, including 16 from the Pittsburgh region. It’s part of a traveling art exhibit called “Lest We Forget,” featuring photographs from German-Italian artist Luigi Toscano.
The art installation has been displayed in prominent locations around the country, including the headquarters of the United Nations and the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, and internationally in Austria, Belgium and Ukraine. According to Toscano, the large portraits are intended to raise awareness of the hate and bigotry that exist in today’s world and are intentionally placed in open settings like parks or public squares so that they are accessible to everyone.
The exhibit comes at a time of remembrance for the City of Pittsburgh and the Pitt community. Oct. 27 marks one year since the shooting that killed 11 members of three congregations that used the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill as their house of worship. It was the largest antisemitic attack in American history.
“During Pitt’s Year of Creativity, we are bringing in a work of art that speaks to one of the critical issues of our time,” said Kathy Humphrey, senior vice chancellor for engagement and secretary of the Board of Trustees. “A year after the Pitt community gathered on the Cathedral lawn to commemorate the victims of the shooting at Tree of Life, they will walk through the same part of campus and see the faces of Holocaust survivors reminding us that the battle against hatred and prejudice is a struggle for the ages.”