The Sh’ma Project: Move Against Hate
Photo: Courtesy Loli Kantor
“What Remains,” by Loli Kantor, Bershad, 2007 Ukraine, Palladium Print

Exhibit aims to teach about the Holocaust and human rights

Move Against Hate — an art exhibit focusing on the dire impact of hate behavior — opened March 4 and remains on display through March 26 at Arts Fort Worth, 1300 Gendy St. Curated to highlight human rights and social change, the exhibit features photos,   paintings and sculptures by four diverse and locally acclaimed artists.

The exhibit marks the official launch of “The Sh’ma Project,” a Holocaust and human rights arts and education initiative directed by Dr. Suki John, Texas Christian University professor of Classical and Contemporary Dance. Her choreodrama, “Sh’ma,” originally performed in New York and the former Yugoslavia, will premiere as a dance film next year and serve as a teaching tool in schools nationwide.

The four visual artists were selected for their passion for social justice — and their ability to portray the dangers of hateful thought through stunning visual art, some of it challenging for the viewer. These works provide an ideal connection to the spirit and intent of “The Sh’ma Project,” which transports a staged choreodrama to film, increasing the reach of its important message.

Featured Move Against Hate artists are:

Loli Kantor: Photo artist, author and documentarian — Kantor’s work pinpoints personal issues, community connections and cultural foundations.

Marianne Lettieri: Lettieri’s expertise in sculpture, mixed media, assemblage, and installation with a focus on quiet yet powerful statements concerning the modern role of women in society.

Nan Phillips: A co-founder of the Texas Jewish Arts Association, Phillips is a sculptor and glass artist whose works encompass the support of peaceful immigration.

Bernardo Vallarino: A mixed-media sculptor — Vallarino highlights geopolitical issues of violence  and human suffering through his unique installations.

A recent survey of Millennial and Gen Z students revealed a significant number cannot name a single concentration camp and believe 2 million or fewer Jews were killed in World War II. Some students even claimed Jews caused the Holocaust. These uncertainties amongst young people have motivated John to bring The Sh’ma Project into schools and community organizations in 2023.

“Sh’ma” — which means “listen” in Hebrew — is derived from the central prayer of the Jewish liturgy. The “Sh’ma Project” entreats the audience to listen and respond to John’s family story of the Holocaust. It uses three different approaches: dance film, upstander workshops and free open educational resources.

“What is happening to those suffering from hate and war is unfortunately becoming all too familiar,” John explains. “The Holocaust is a topic young people need to fully comprehend in order to understand the past, present and future of hate — and how to avert it in their own lives moving forward.”

“‘Move Against Hate’ is a visual expression reaching way beyond dance and Judaism, taking this message to the whole community,” John says. The exhibit is presented by Arts Fort Worth in conjunction with The Sh’ma Project partners: Texas Jewish Arts Association, Jewish Federation of Fort Worth & Tarrant County, TCU, The Sosenko Trust and The Zale Foundation.

“Visual arts are a powerful way to illustrate the consequences of hate speech and behavior,’” says “Move Against Hate” curator and local artist, Jan Ayers Friedman. “We hope that Loli’s photos, Bernardo’s penciled butterflies, Marianne’s traditionally feminine objects and Nan’s brilliantly-colored  glass denoting peace and potential, will open up a new way of thinking. If it opens that window by a crack, this exhibit will have done its job magnificently.”

“Move Against Hate” will be displayed during Arts Fort Worth’s hours, 9 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Arts Fort Worth Gallery Night is Saturday, March 26, from noon to 9 p.m. To contact the gallery, call 817-738-1938.

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