The cover of artist Stan Lebovic’s book reads “Black is a Color, by a survivor’s son.” But in his search for meaning in the aftermath of the Holocaust, “I don’t focus on the negativity,” Lebovic promises.
Instead, he finds hope and inspiration in the resilience of the Jewish people. “To me, it’s not who built the concentration camps but it’s those who were able to go in them as inmates and come out and continue,” he says. Seeing “how amazing the Jewish people are — that we can pick up from such an event and continue to call ourselves Jews or to believe in G-d” has given him a new appreciation for life and for faith.
Lebovic, 49, will be in Tucson on Monday, April 30, to talk about his work at Congregation Anshei Israel, where his parents, Ida and Alex Lebovic, retirees from Los Angeles, are members. An exhibit of 20 large reproductions from the book, which also includes essays by Lebovic, will be on display from 7 to 9 p.m.
His haunting images start with photographs that he digitally manipulates in a variety of ways, including drawing and collaging. The images are surreal, “but I like the realistic look so I always use photographs” as a base, says Lebovic, who sold a successful technical illustration company six years ago to devote himself to his art. He is currently working on a Passover Haggadah.
Although “Black is a Color” might suggest a childhood overshadowed by the horror of the Shoah, “I don’t think I had a traumatic childhood,” he told the AJP. “I had a great childhood.”
His father, who survived Auschwitz, spoke of his experiences often, but he was able to do so without being overly emotional. “We had a good relationship. It wasn’t strained,” says Lebovic. But he did feel some guilt, he acknowledges, a need to “do something special” to honor his father’s survival.
Lebovic is the only one among a brother and 12 cousins who is now Orthodox in his observance. “Trying to make sense of things,” he says, “really directed a lot of my life and made me take things a little more seriously.”
“Black is a Color” expresses his struggle to find a balance between “the stories I grew up on from my father … and the idea that I’m supposed to still believe in a good G-d.” He went back to “the real roots of the religion to see if there is any indication there that a Holocaust does not throw Judaism a curveball.” While Lebovic found no answers that can explain the Holocaust, he says, “I felt comfortable with not knowing.”
Copies of “Black is a Color” will be available for $60 at the exhibit. For more information, call Congregation Anshei Israel at 745-5550 or visit blackisacolor.com.