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大学 of La Verne Receives Historical Ukrainian-American Jewish Sculptures for Conservation and Study


The 大学 of La Verne has received a donation of 14 historical folk-art sculptures from the Malgert Halpern and Irving Cohen family that depict Jewish life and culture in pre-World War II Ukraine and the United States.

The sculptures will be restored and 保存d through a years-long conservation process led by the Cultural and Natural 历史 Collections (CNHC) and a select team of university 工作人员 and students.

The “Henry Halpern Collection of Jewish Life” was created by Henry Halpern, who was born in Ukraine and lived from 1895 to 1979. Many of the pieces depict Halpern’s memory of what Jewish life was like in Ukraine prior to the Holocaust, which led to the ultimate destruction of his community. Others resemble Jewish traditions he 保存d while living in the United States.

Each piece is made of delicate greenware, 或未烧制的粘土, and some sculptures express various depictions of Halpern’s small town or “shtetl.”

“They are expressive, very dynamic, they are very emotive,” said Anne Collier, curator in the CNHC.

Collier is leading the conservation process of the sculptures, most of which are brittle and heavily aged.  She has moved them to a climate-controlled space and has begun carefully dusting years of layered dirt and debris off them.

一旦雕塑被清理干净, 重新组装, 和稳定, they will be displayed publicly and studied by students. 学生 will also be able to assist in the process of conservation, 历史研究, 和管理, 科利尔说.

Collier looks forward to uncovering the history behind each sculpture as the conservation process moves forward. “It’s the person behind the story, never the object,” 科利尔说. “There’s so much more to learn about these sculptures.”

Robyn Small served as the Halpern and Cohen family’s caregiver for the sculptures and was introduced to the 大学 of La Verne through her husband. After meeting President Devorah Lieberman and Chaplain Zandra Wagoner, Small felt the alignment between Halpern’s sculptures and the university’s values made the university “the perfect fit” to care for them.

“His gift in forming the clay people was his way of teaching what is important in any culture: working together; debating the meaning of faith; visiting the sick; lively exchanges at the market; simple vignettes of daily life,斯莫尔说.

Wagoner agreed that the sculptures embody the university’s commitment to interfaith teaching, 多样性和包容性, 终身学习.

“We are so thankful for the opportunity to 保存 this history that so easily communicates through its visual representation,瓦格纳说.

The CNHC is the steward of the 大学 of La Verne’s collection of artifacts, 对象, 这些标本代表, 保存, and document the collective memory of the natural and cultural world.

Financial support of the conservation efforts is welcome.