WCU museum to debut ‘Kristallnacht’ prints

Erwin_Eisch_Kristallnacht_WEB08A series of 10 vitreographic prints by artist Erwin Eisch (see an example at right) depicting scenes from a Nazi attack on Germany’s Jewish population will show from Thursday, March 27, through Thursday, May 1, at the Fine Art Museum on the campus of Western Carolina University. The portfolio will premier from 4-7 p.m. Thursday, March 27, as part of the Fine Art Museum’s ongoing “Worldview” series, selections from its permanent collection. The premier is concurrent with a reception for the School of Art and Design’s annual juried competition for art students.

In November 1938, in an event that portended the Holocaust, the German government orchestrated an attack against German Jews that included the destruction of Jewish synagogues, cemeteries and businesses. As many as 2,500 deaths resulted from what the German government termed “Kristallnacht,” or “Night of the Crystal Death.” Eisch, a glass sculptor from the village of Frauneau, in the German state of Bavaria, was 12 years old at the time. He created his “Kristallnacht” portfolio in 1992 in response to the event.

“I want to try to come to terms with the burden, the shame, the anger and the fear which shaped my childhood,” Eisch wrote in the “Kristallnacht” preface.

Eisch, who comes from a family of glassblowers, is considered the “father” of European studio glass. He has exhibited in Germany, Austria, the United States, Japan, Czechoslovakia, France and Switzerland, and his work is represented in the collections of the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, N.Y.; the Elvehjem Museum of Art in Madison, Wis.; the Smithsonian Institution in Washington; and the Toledo Museum of Art.

Harvey K. and Bess Littleton of Spruce Pine donated the “Kristallnacht” portfolio. Harvey Littleton, also a glass artist, pioneered vitreography, a printmaking medium that uses a glass matrix to transfer an image to paper. Artists, including Eisch, whom Littleton befriended in Germany in 1962, have long traveled to Littleton Studios in Spruce Pine to create these prints.

Museum hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and 1-4 p.m. Saturday. The museum is closed Sundays, Mondays and university holidays. For more information about the exhibitions, contact Martin DeWitt, museum director, at (828) 227-2553 or mdewitt@email.wcu.edu; or Hillary Brett, assistant curator, at (828) 227-3591 or hbrett@email.wcu.edu. Visit the Fine Art Museum online at www.wcu.edu/fapac/galleries.