The images of ‘Homage to the spiritual space of Auschwitz’ give food for thought

A magnificent but very dark and haunting exhibition in the capital of the University Schumacher Gallery serves as an elegy to the more than a million people murdered in Auschwitz concentration camp in German-occupied Poland.

A Requiem: Tribute to the Auschwitz Spiritual Space“, running through December 11 in the gallery, is a small but powerful exhibition of large-scale black and white photographs of Susan can say, a New York-based fine art photographer.

An image of "A Requiem: Tribute to the Auschwitz Spiritual Space" by Susan May Tell

The works, each 4 by 6 feet with simple black frames, include images of the remains of gas chambers, barbed wire fences, barracks with rows of empty bunks, doors with padlocks and in a particularly disturbing scene, a pile of suitcases and satchels with names printed such as “Hanna Feitsma, Holland”. None of the photographs include humans.

A picture of "A Requiem: Tribute to the Auschwitz Spiritual Space" by Susan May Tell

Untitled images, in black and white like many Holocaust photographs, seem more powerful and less distracting than if they were in color. The soft recorded string music playing in the background serves as the appropriate and thoughtful accompaniment.

In the text of the exhibition, Tell explains that she visited the grounds of Auschwitz on an impromptu trip in 1998. Tragedy of this place through the images I saw through my lens.

Auschwitz, located in Oswiecim, Poland, was the largest of Nazi Germany’s concentration camps, where between 1.3 and 1.5 million people – 90 percent of whom were Jews – were murdered in rooms at gas.

A picture of "A Requiem: Tribute to the Auschwitz Spiritual Space" by Susan May Tell

In the exhibition catalog, Tell alternates his photographs with segments of poems from the end Stanley kunitz, former poet laureate of the United States. Between the photos of the brick structures and the fences at Auschwitz are words like these:

“When they paint our outlets gray / And light us up like a stinking fuse / Remember once we could say / Yesterday we had a world to lose.”

Through such a partnership of words and images and the power of her photos, Tell found beauty and grace in the midst of horror – surely the role of an artist to ensure remembrance.

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In one look

Susan May Tell’s “A Requiem: Homage to Auschwitz Spiritual Space” continues through December 11 at Capital University’s Schumacher Gallery, Fourth Floor Library, College Avenue and East Main Street, Bexley. Hours: noon to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday. The gallery will be closed from November 24 to 28. Masks are mandatory. Call 614-236-6319 or visit

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