• Follow @westsidewired on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to get updates on news and sports.
The Student-Run News Site of Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Keeping you WIRED in to all things Westside.

Westside Wired

The Student-Run News Site of Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Keeping you WIRED in to all things Westside.

Westside Wired

The Student-Run News Site of Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Keeping you WIRED in to all things Westside.

Westside Wired

AP art students visit Samuel Bak’s “Flight and Hope” exhibition

Jewish-Lithuanian artist Samuel Bak donated 400 of his pieces to the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Some of his artwork deals with his experiences as a Holocaust survivor, as well as contemporary culture.  

Bak’s “Flight and Hope” exhibition resides in Aksarben. The exhibit’s goal is to bring attention to the status of refugees in 2023. 

Westside’s AP Art students were one of the first groups of students to visit the exhibit as an educational trip. Executive Director Hillary Nather-Detisch led the students through the exhibit and created activities to start conversations around the themes behind the exhibit. 

“[The exhibit] really takes Sam’s work and tells that story— his own personal story and journey—but being able to take it to a 2023 conversation reference around human rights,” Nather-Detisch said.

According to UNO’s website, “Refugees have built new homes, created communities, and businesses in our state, turning the state in a ‘global heartland’… Bak’s paintings remind us that those undergoing this traumatic displacement are human; that individuals caught in conflict long for peace and a home; and that hope is, despite all odds, eternal.”

Nather-Detisch led Westside students through a series of activities. Activities included looking at Bak’s work as well as learning about current events concerning genocide. 

Senior Allison Burnett thoroughly enjoyed her experience at the exhibit.

“I liked when they made us analyze a piece,” Burnett said. “We stood in front of a piece for like 10 minutes. You can really see all the details. I heard a saying that you can’t truly understand an art piece unless you stare at it.”

Throughout his entire life, Bak has created art. Some artwork in the gallery dates back to when he was 15. 

“Our very first inaugural exhibition was very autobiographical,” Nather-Detisch said. “I love this type of exhibition you’re seeing today called ‘Flight and Hope.’ Again, we will have a different one next spring and a different one the following fall.”

Bak directly introduced his artwork to Omaha. 

Executive Director of the Sam & Frances Fried Holocaust & Genocide Academy at UNO Mark Celinscak used Bak’s work in his course in 2019. He partnered with Bak and the Pucker Gallery, the formal representation for Bak. For three months, they brought 70 works of art to the Weber’s building for UNO students. 

“Sam had two transformational conversations, one with UNO students and one with local high school students,” Nather-Detisch said. “It was through those conversations that he just felt Omaha was the right place for his collection.”

Bak later donated 400 pieces to UNO. To honor Bak’s donation, the university is creating a building dedicated to be a gallery.

The Covid pandemic had postponed the development of the art exhibition. Currently, the temporary space for the art resides in Aksarben and is open to the public. 

The Samuel Bak Museum has grants for educators wanting to bring in students to view the exhibit. Westside Art Instructor Liz Hough was part of a panel this summer and received the opportunity to take students to the Samuel Bak exhibit.

“I loved seeing the students’ reaction to the work, especially because we learned about it beforehand,” Hough said. “To see them see it in real life and to see students closely examining things and taking them in was just powerful.”

Donate to Westside Wired

Your donation will support the student journalists of Omaha Westside High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Sarah Rizwan
Sarah Rizwan, Staff Writer
Hi! My name is Sarah. I’m a staff writer for Westside Wired. I am currently a senior and this is my second year on Wired. A fun fact about me is that I like to read. If you have any questions or comments please contact me at [email protected].
Donate to Westside Wired