SANTA BARBARA POLICE DEPARTMENT VISITS PORTRAITS OF SURVIVAL EXHIBIT
During the month of July 2008, Portraits of Survival will host over 200 commanders, detectives, officers and other personnel of the Santa Barbara Police Department, in an effort spearheaded by Police Chief Cam Sanchez.
Portraits of Survival: Life Journeys During the Holocaust and Beyond is a permanent exhibit in photography and an educational program which depicts the experiences of Santa Barbara residents who survived the Holocaust. The program features survivors who speak with groups of all ages and backgrounds about living through horror and creating a life “beyond” trauma. The program lends hope and inspiration as it reaches out into the entire community in ways that are meaningful, within contemporary life and for future generations.
Portraits Director Dr. Elizabeth Wolfson said that, "Portraits of Survival has been particularly effective with participants from immigrant families and at-risk youth who struggle with "belonging" within the community, and who deal with challenges of prejudice and poverty in day to day living. As Holocaust survivors describe their own encounters with discrimination, immigration, loss of family and other traumas, listeners are struck by the resilience and optimism modeled by survivors who overcame some of the worst horrors imaginable to create a life "beyond" the Holocaust."
Additionally, each survivor story includes the experience of being helped by someone who in an act of courage did something to save a life (e.g. by helping Jews hide or escape) at great personal risk. The personal narratives of what hate can do, and what positive connections accomplish creates a powerful impetus among listeners for discussion about peer pressure, community responsibility and belonging. It is hoped that the resource of Portraits of Survival will increasingly counter the issues of discrimination and need for "belonging" that inspires gang membership and gang related violence.
The aim is to engage officers in learning how the powerful resource of Portraits of Survival is being utilized to reach alienated young people in our community who, unfortunately, share with Holocaust survivors experiences of discrimination, family disruption, and challenges of immigration. Officers will tour the exhibit, hear from some survivors whose stories are depicted in the exhibit, and view a brief film which summarizes some of the survivor experiences.
In this way, officers can witness how the program resonates in life-altering ways for participants of all ages, offering possibility beyond horror and trauma and adversity, to inspire meaningful living and positive human connection.
click the thumbnails below for a larger view
Photographs by Kelsey Crews and Ross Payson
Portraits Community Impact