Arts / Museums

Women Artists Tell Stories That Need to Be Told at Holocaust Museum Houston — Two Powerful Exhibitions Fight the Hate

A Historically Significant Doubleheader

BY // 03.16.23

Some stories must be told, and nowhere is that more evident right now than at Holocaust Museum Houston. Two stellar exhibitions, featuring women artists with ties to Houston, are now being showcased at the museum. 

While held in the Auschwitz and the Bergen-Belsen camps, Alice Lok Cahana made a vow not to hate those who imprisoned her and killed her family. As she often told friends, “If I hate, that means Hitler would’ve won.”

“The Life and Art of Alice Lok Cahana” showcases more than 15 multimedia works from the late Hungarian artist, who passed in 2017. The exhibition celebrates Lok Cahana as not just an artist, but a friend, mother and survivor. Through paintings, collages and sculptures, Lok Cahana illustrates her experiences as a teen in the concentration camps, and memorializes the many lives lost to the horrors of the Holocaust. 

The exhibition includes two large pieces, Have You Seen My Sister? and Bergen-Belsen, which are on loan from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, a scroll sculpture on loan from friends and local collectors, several paintings and five pieces owned by Holocaust Museum Houston. There also is a video tribute with stories and memories from Lok Cahana’s friends and family. 

“Our first exhibition when the Museum opened in 1996 was a retrospective of Alice Lok Cahana’s works,” Holocaust Museum Houston CEO Dr. Kelly J. Zúñiga says. “The 2023 show brings us full circle to honor her memory while introducing her prolific work to a whole new generation of art lovers.” 

“The Life and Art of Alice Lok Cahana” is on view through Sunday, April 9 in the Josef and Edith Mincberg Gallery. For more information and tickets, go here.

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Carolyn Marks Johnson’s Mayor Annise Parker Collar, 2022 (Photo by Sonya Cuellar)
Carolyn Marks Johnson’s Mayor Annise Parker Collar, 2022 (Photo by Sonya Cuellar)

Notable Women

Just in time for Women’s History Month, Carolyn Marks Johnson’s bronze shirt collars take center stage at Holocaust Museum Houston in an exhibition called “Woman, the Spirit of the Universe.” Johnson’s hand-stitched and bronze-cast cotton collars honor 23 women in American history who fought tirelessly to establish gender equality and combat sexism.

“We all stand on the shoulders of those who have come before us,” Zúñiga says. “The collars featured in ‘Woman, the Spirit of the Universe’ exhibition adorned the shoulders of women who changed history. Their contributions are powerful stories of women uplifting women that must be shared.”

The exhibition encompasses generations of notable women, from Margaret Brent to Harriet Tubman to Barbara Jordan. Holocaust Museum Houston is the first museum to feature Johnson’s two newest collars: one for former Houston mayor Annise Parker and the other for the city’s first librarian Julia B. Ideson. Be sure not to miss the collar of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second female justice to ever serve on the Supreme Court, who inspired countless girls and women.

“Woman, the Spirit of the Universe” is on view through Sunday, April 23 in the Lester and Sue Smith Human Rights Gallery. For more information and tickets, go here.

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