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Date: Apr 23, 2008
Hofstra University Museum Presents Exhibit of Mixed Media Works by Internationally Known 94-Year-Old Artist and Former Hofstra Professor
Survivor of Bolshevik Revolution, Nazi invasion of Poland, Jewish ghetto in ChinaHofstra University, Hempstead, NY – Yonia Fain, a 94-year old artist who witnessed many of 20th Century Europe’s great social and political upheavals, will be the subject of an exhibit at the Hofstra University Museum’s Rochelle and Irwin A. Lowenfeld Conference and Exhibition Hall, Joan and Donald E. Axinn Library, 10th Floor, South Campus, from May 5 – August 8, 2008.
A Painter’s Witness to History: Recent Work by Yonia Fain will feature eight current mixed media works on paper by the internationally known artist who taught at Hofstra for 13 years.
Yonia Fain was born in Russia in 1914 but spent most of his youth in Poland after his family escaped the Bolshevik Revolution. In 1939, when the Soviets invaded Vilna, his family fled to Warsaw. When the Nazis invaded Warsaw, Fain attempted to flee the country but was captured and imprisoned by Soviet troops. He and his wife were released into Russia, where they obtained Japanese transit visas and traveled through Siberia, making their way to Japan. They were transported to Shanghai, China just prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and spent the duration of World War II in a Chinese ghetto for Polish Jewish refugees.
Fain did not wish to return to Europe after the war, and through the efforts of a friend, samples of his work were sent to the renowned Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera. Rivera arranged a visa for the Fain family to Mexico in 1946 and Fain had several exhibitions during his years in Mexico. During this time he also taught at the University of Mexico (1947–1953), after which he moved his family to New York City at the urging of the famed artist Rufino Tamayo. Tamayo helped Fain secure a teaching position at the Brooklyn Museum where he had a 14 year tenure, later teaching at New York University from 1964-1970. In 1970, he became a faculty member at Hofstra. He taught art history and the philosophy of art, retiring in 1983.
“As a ‘survivor’ Yonia Fain has spent his life conveying through his poetry and visual imagery potent and important memories, paying tribute to those he has known, to all whose lives were curtailed during the Holocaust,” said Hofstra University Museum Director Beth Levinthal. “He seeks to make a significant historic contribution on their behalf through the languages he knows best, those of the poet and the painter.”
Fain’s prolific life as an artist has continued throughout the years and his work has been the subject of numerous one-man shows as well as being included in exhibits at the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Butler Institute of American Art, the Albright-Knox Gallery, and the Chrysler Art Museum, as well as the Carnegie International. A recent 2007 exhibit of his work took place at the London Jewish Cultural Centre.
In addition to his work as a visual artist, Fain is an award-winning Yiddish poet who has won international acclaim with books that include A Gallow Under the Stars, Beloved Strangers, New York Addresses, and The Fifth Season.
The Hofstra University Museum has been awarded the highest honor a museum can receive, continued accreditation by the American Association of Museums (AAM). Approximately 5% of museums nationwide have earned this distinguished recognition. Accreditation certifies that the Hofstra University Museum operates according to professional standards, manages its collections responsibly and provides quality service to the public.
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