Closing Reception during CVPA Star Series: AHA! Night, Thursday March 11, 2021 from 6 to 8 pm
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UMass Dartmouth University Art Gallery at Star Store Campus proudly presents an exhibition by artist and photographer, Alexandra Broches, entitled Dear Alexandra, Letters and Pictures From a Box. For the exhibition, Broches combines photographic family portraits of and letters from many of her relatives some of whom would soon be lost in the Holocaust. Written in Dutch, the handwritten and typed correspondence allows her and us to “meet” family members through patient reading and translation. The story begins in 1939, when her newly married parents left the Netherlands for New York, leaving the family behind. Soon after their departure, the situation in Europe began to worsen, leading eventually to the Holocaust and WWII.
While too often conversations about the Holocaust reduces its victims to platitudes and statistics, here, the stories told by Broches are alive through both the ordinary and the horrifying; letters about musical events, birthdays, thwarted travel, the procurement of fake documents, escapes by boat, incarceration and ultimately Auschwitz. Alexandra Broches’ exhibition is ultimately the story of morality, both lost and enduring and of the stubborn hold nationalism and racism still has on our world today.
Alexandra Broches is the first-generation daughter of Dutch Jewish parents who arrived in New York in 1939. Her life has been shaped in many ways by being the daughter of a father who lost his family in the Holocaust. When asked how long she has been working on Letters and Pictures from a Box, she explained, “In a way, there are two answers; for the last three years, and secondly, probably my whole life.”
In an earlier series, Markings of Loss, Traces of Presence (2001-2002) that combined Broches' childhood drawings juxtaposed to recent photographs, she created fresh contextual layers of meaning in works about time, place and identity. Curatorial projects in 2004 and 2005 (Memory, Identity and Place and Sites of Memory and Honor) proved to be precursors to the project Letters and Pictures from a Box. Through this project Broches continues to use a family narrative to reflect upon who she is and where she comes from.
Broches lives and maintains her studio in Wakefield, Rhode Island. She is a founding member of Hera Gallery/Hera Educational Foundation one of the earliest women’s cooperative galleries in the U.S. and a pioneer in the development of alternative exhibition spaces across the country in the 1970s. Broches represented the gallery on a panel sponsored by the Women’s Caucus for Art at the NGO Forum on Women of the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. As a result of this meeting, Hera Gallery participated in an exchange exhibition, Through Australian Women’s Eyes, organized by SWAN (School of Women Artist’s Network) and Hera Sojourns: Visions from North America at the University of Wollongong Gallery, Wollongong, Australia.
She has exhibited her work nationally and regionally in The Print Center, Philadelphia, PA, Morehead State University, Morehead, Kentucky; Newspace Center for Photography, Portland, OR; Eastern Carolina University, Greenville, NC; PhotoSpiva, Joplin, MO, Griffin Museum, Winchester, MA, Newport Art Museum, and Providence Center for Photographic Arts, the Providence Art Club, and Chazan Gallery at Wheeler School, RI. Recently her photographs were shown in the Jamestown Arts Center in two exhibitions, 5th Decade: Hera Gallery and WORD: Text in Contemporary Art.
Broches has an MFA in Visual Art from Vermont College, an MA in Art History from Hunter College and a BA from Bennington College. She was a resident fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in 2008 and 2005 and received the RISCA Fellowship in Photography Merit Award in 2017. She has taught at Rhode Island College in Providence, RI, Cazenovia College, Cazenovia, NY, and the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, RI. Her work can be seen at www.alexandrabroches.com.