Gabriella Nikolic

Figure 4 from the One Day, One Woman, One Child exhibition

Striking images of Holocaust victims overlaid with paint and text stare back at viewers as they encounter the pieces in the exhibition One Day, One Woman, One Child — which will be in the Longyear Museum of Anthropology until this Friday. 

The exhibition is composed of 15 monoprints by Serbian-Canadian artist Gabriella Nikolic. She uses multiple screens and pigments for her printmaking process in which ink is transferred to paper from a plate that can create varying images.

A collection of 20 Nikolic prints was a gift to the Longyear Museum from Canadian benefactor Susan Robson in 2001, but they had not been publicly displayed prior to this exhibition.

Thus, Sarah Loy ’15, under the guidance of Carol Ann Lorenz, senior curator of the Longyear, set out to research the images and texts incorporated into the art.

Loy engaged in this research last summer with support from the J. Curtiss Taylor ’54 Student Research Grant in the Division of Arts and Humanities. She wrote the exhibition labels as well as an essay that analyzed the images and texts, placing them in the context of the Holocaust.

“I knew little about art, but I wanted to pursue this research because I thought it would allow me to study the Holocaust from a new angle,” explained Loy, a double major in peace and conflict studies and religion.

The title and the collection are based on Nikolic’s Serbian family history, which was profoundly affected by the Holocaust. Fifty-two members of her family died in “one day,” but “one woman” (her grandmother) and “one child” (her father) survived.

Nikolic’s work uses archival photographs and texts to place her ancestors’ personal story in the context of the mass suffering of the Holocaust. “In my work, I commemorate each and every one of them,” Nikolic wrote in her artist statement.

The commemoration has proved productive: several Colgate classes, including Jewish and German history courses, two first-year seminars, and a peace and conflict studies class, have expanded on their classroom experience to incorporate the exhibition.

And the learning experience has not just been limited to Colgate students: thanks to Melissa Davies, the education coordinator at the Picker Art Gallery, a group of Hamilton high school students visited the exhibition as well.

As Loy reflected, “I now have a new appreciation for the power that art has to look at tough issues and events like the Holocaust, and how it can expand on information given in books and other academic sources.”