Robert Katz’s assemblage works use a rich visual language to explore themes of personal identity, remembrance, exile, redemption, and moral imperative. His work has been exhibited at the Jiangsu Chinese Art Academy, the Derfner Judaica Museum, the Charter Oak Cultural Center, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has designed numerous Holocaust memorials, including Dwelling of Remembrance at the Scarsdale Synagogue in New York. He grew up in Brooklyn, has lived and worked in Montana, and is now a professor of art at the University of Maine at Augusta and serves on the board of the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine. His website is www.robertkatzsculptor.com.
MY RECENT MIXED-MEDIA ASSEMBLAGES inspired by selected parashiyot (weekly Torah portions) explore the interplay of myth, ritual, memory, and truth. By repurposing found objects, texts, and photographs—vestiges of a modern world—I examine the mysteries and struggles depicted in the Scriptures. The use of disparate materials across a consistent background of aged and unfinished wooden boxes literally imbues this visual biblical mosaic with elements of creation and the smell of the earth.
My compositions are not meant to be literal illustrations of the Torah. Each assemblage is layered with irony, as well as personal elements and social commentary, while reinterpreting significant moments in our collective Jewish history. I incorporate the recurring themes of retribution, repentance, and redemption that are embedded in the biblical encounters between humans and G-d.
By giving a contemporary shape to the retelling of ancient texts, I have constructed a portal into my imagination, traditions, and faith.
The title of each assemblage is inspired by artist and theorist Joseph Beuys (1921–86), whose work reflected concepts of humanism and the impacts of political and environmental change in a spiritual world.