Project Description

Arts In: Erin Blankenship

Erin Blankenship is the Curator of Exhibitions & Collections at the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg. The Museum is more special than most people realize – it’s a historical museum that maintains a vital collection of contemporary art.

Erin’s seen first-hand how visual art offers another path to understanding the challenging reality of genocide. The Museum’s permanent collection includes work in a range of mediums, created by artists in concentration camps and Holocaust survivors – along with work by “empathizers,” artists who may or may not be Jewish, but are moved to respond to acts of genocide.

She explains the powerful role artists shoulder, telling stories that need to be told. And she shares memories of beloved artist William Pachner, an internationally-known Abstract Expressionist and a longtime, vivid presence in Tampa Bay. In one of the highlights of her curatorial career to date, Erin organized an exhibition where collectors of Pachner’s beautiful and colorful abstractions discovered that his paintings were inspired by the loss of his entire family in the Holocaust – forcing people to rethink their perception of what ‘Holocaust art’ looks like.

Find out more about the Florida Holocaust Museum’s exhibitions and programming at

https://www.flholocaustmuseum.org/.

Read a Tampa Bay Times review of the exhibit of William Pachner’s work that Erin talks about – https://www.tampabay.com/things-to-do/visualarts/art-review-william-pachners-powerful-response-to-holocaust-still-resonates/2230372.

A detailed look at the life and work of William Pachner published in Tablet, with a quote from Erin https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-arts-and-culture/250423/painter-william-pachner-obit.

– Arts In is produced by Sheila Cowley. Executive Producer, Barbara St. Clair.