Academics, Upper School

Students Process Holocaust through Art and Literature

Juniors in Humanities ended the 2017 calendar year with a powerful creative response to the Holocaust. For several weeks in December, students grapple with the event through research and reading. As a culmination of the curriculum unit, students create an artistic project expressing their interpretation of the historical event.

"The creative response gives the chance for students to interact with the Holocaust in a different way, as opposed to just learning the statistics and reading the history," says Humanities teacher Gigi Craig. "It allows them to reflect on balancing the history with what the Holocaust means for individuals and families of both people who were killed and who survived."

Students choose any media for their project, and submit an artist's statement describing their piece and their rationale for its creation. The results range from poems and sculptures to video-blogs and paintings.

A piece by Mo S. was inspired by a real story he heard from a rabbi: A young boy, who was half-Jewish, refused to denounce his Jewish heritage in front of S.S. officers at a concentration camp, going as far as to spit on one of the soldiers. "It was a really powerful story," says Mo. "I tried to capture that power in my piece."

Gigi, who graduated from NWS in 2002, has a vivid memory of what she created for the project as a high student. She describes her piece as a charcoal image with three hanging bodies and a smokestack tower in the background as a response to a specific scene in Elie Wiesel's memoir Night.