Yonia Fain: Refugee Modernism Exhibit

Yonia Fain: Refugee Modernism Exhibit


Thu, Oct 12, 2023 - Tue, Dec 12, 2023    
9:30 am - 4:30 pm

Event Type

Mercer County Community College (MCCC) has announced that the Yonia Fain: Refugee Modernism exhibit – a collaboration between The Gallery at MCCC and the Mercer County Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Education Center – will be open to the public beginning on October 9.

This solo exhibit, which runs through December 12 at The Gallery at MCCC, West Windsor Campus, will display the art of 20th Century modernist painter, Yiddish poet and Holocaust survivor Yonia Fain. From the collection of MCCC and the Congress for Jewish Culture, Fain’s artistic work explores the themes of brutality, survival and hope.

An Opening Reception for the exhibit will be held on October 18 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m., where MCCC students, professors and alumni as well as local residents and fellow art lovers are invited to gather and admire Fain’s timeless pieces. Then, on October 25 at 5:30 p.m., Mercer County Community College will host a Curator’s Talk and Literary Reading, where MCCC Professor of Visual Arts Yevgeniy Fiks will speak about Fain’s life and work and conduct a poetry reading together with Dr. Barbara Krasner, MCCC professor and director of the Mercer County Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Education Center. Plans are underway for a special exhibit Fundraiser event on November 15. For additional fundraiser information and updates, please visit www.mccc.edu/fain-give.

“The Yonia Fain: Refugee Modernism exhibit reactivates the legacy of Yonia Fain and depicts the connection between modern art and Yiddish literature that Fain’s work exemplifies,” says Lucas Kelly, director of The Gallery at MCCC. “The exhibit celebrates Fain’s artistic legacy this year, which marks the 110th anniversary of his birth and 10 years since his passing.”

Ukraine-born, Fain began creating art and Yiddish poetry after fleeing to Vilnius as a child. During the Nazi invasion, he was forced to Vladivostok, where he obtained falsified documents and escaped through Siberia to Japan. He spent the remainder of World War II in Shanghai (under Japanese control), where he continued his creative pursuits. After the war ended, Fain moved to Mexico, where his art was championed by famous painter Diego Rivera. From 1947 to 1953, Fain was commissioned to do several major murals in Mexico City. Fain continued to be a prolific Yiddish poet, serving as the President of the Yiddish Pen Society, winning numerous awards and authoring five books.

“Fain’s timeless work not only expresses the common hardships experienced during World War II, but it also beautifully illustrates modern concerns, such as breaking from the past in search for new forms of expression,” says Deborah Preston, Ph.D., president of MCCC. “We extend our thanks to the Mercer County Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Education Center and the Congress for Jewish Culture for their incredible contributions to this exhibit. Because of their commitment to this project, MCCC students have the privilege to witness such powerful pieces of art.”

The Yonia Fain: Refugee Modernism exhibit is free and open to the public on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and on Wednesdays from 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. The exhibit will close on Tuesday, December 12, 2023. For more information regarding the exhibit, please visit https://mccc.edu/fain


About Mercer County Community College

Established in 1966, Mercer County Community College is a publicly supported comprehensive institution that provides opportunities for higher education through an open-door admission policy. The scenic 292-acre West Windsor Campus was opened in 1972 to serve the needs of Mercer County residents. MCCC’s James Kerney Campus, located in downtown Trenton, serves as an educational and cultural hub for city residents that meets the changing needs of thousands of students and community members seeking educational fulfillment and personal and career growth. Dr. Deborah E. Preston, President. www.mccc.edu