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Czech Center Museum Houston Opens Submissions to the Creative Activism Project Art Exhibition

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Submissions to the Creative Activism Project Art Exhibition are now open. The Creative Activism Project educates K-12 students about bigotry, injustice, and historical oppression. The program provides young people with creative tools to analyze prejudice and gives them a platform to express their thoughts through art.

The Czech Center Museum Houston developed the Creative Activism Project to help children learn about the Holocaust while discovering their creative potential. It was initially designed as a workshop and exhibit about the lives of young people interred in the Terezin Concentration Camp.

From November 24, 1941, to May 8, 1945, more than 150,000 Jews lived at the camp, of which 15,000 were children. The Nazis held them in Terezin before being sent on to the extermination camps. Of those 15,000 children who spent time in Terezin, fewer than 1500 would survive the war. These children underwent unimaginable suffering while being used as fodder for Nazi propaganda. All the while, they wrote, created art, and endeavored to survive. Today a significant amount of their art and words remain even if most of them are gone.

An integral part of the exhibit is a copy of a drawing by one young Terezin prisoner, Petr Ginz. The reproduction, which depicts Petr's idea of the Earth as viewed from the moon, was taken into space by NASA Astronaut Andrew Feustel in 2018. This poignant example shows how art can serve as a symbol and a tangible memory connecting us to history.

The Creative Activism Project is inspired by a 2017 exhibit and workshop program that the CCMH hosted known as Vedem. Vedem was an exhibit about a magazine of the same name created in secret by the boys interred at Terezin. The wide-reaching effects of Hurricane Harvey curtailed access to Vedem; however, those students who were able to engage found the exhibit and workshop inspirational.

It was through Vedem that the CCMH was able to send Petr Ginz's work into space, and from that seed, we grew the Creative Activism Project and its exhibit, Surviving Through Art. While Vedem was focused solely on the magazine and the experiences of the boys in Terezin, Surviving Through Art takes a broader view. It includes the art and experiences of both boys and girls and takes a particular focus on how art serves as therapy.

Surviving Through Art opened on February 1, 2020. However, the museum has been closed to the public since mid-March due to the COVID-19 Crisis. Since that time, the staff and volunteers have been working on converting the project to a digital format, says Managing Director, Sandra Samolik. "We feel strongly that the Creative Activism Project can help children express their thoughts in these turbulent times."

At this time, the educational materials related to the Creative Activism Project are not online, but the CCMH plans to release the program in time for the start of the new school year. It will then be available to schools and parents for free.

The CCMH is currently working to solicit donations to support the Creative Activism Project and allow them to ensure that it has the greatest possible impact on the community during this period of pandemic. The CCMH welcomes any form of appropriate sponsorship, and interested parties can reach the CCMH by phone or email.

The Czech Center Museum Houston is accepting art submissions via their website at https://www.czechcenter.org/creative-activism-home. These works should be influenced by injustice, prejudice, survival, and hope. The CCMH will accept artwork in any medium, including collage, drawing, painting, video, and sculpture. The CCMH is taking artwork from both students and adult artists to be exhibited in their museum in 2021. The collection will also be featured digitally on their website.

The most inspiring pieces of artwork will receive awards. The top student prize will be a laptop, while adult prizes will include gift baskets. Samolik says, "We want to unite and inspire young artists in our community with this Project, giving them a chance to be proud of their work and to feel heard."

The deadline for submissions is December 31, 2020.


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