Robert Hirsch
March 29, 2024

This week we cast our community spotlight on artist and educator Robert Hirsch. Robert grew up in the NYC area, earned his BFA from Rochester Institute of Technology (1971) and his MFA from Arizona State University (1974). After spending many years out west, he came to Buffalo in 1991 as a visiting professor in the UB Art Department, met his wife and has continued to call Buffalo home. From 1992 to 1998 he was the Executive Director and Chief Curator at the CEPA Gallery in downtown Buffalo. Since 2000, Robert has led Light Research, a Buffalo-based consulting firm that provides professional services in the photographic arts field.

While Robert had many family members that were directly impacted by the Holocaust, none of them ever talked about it. He first learned of it when he watched news clippings of the Adolf Eichmann trial with his maternal grandfather who had escaped Poland as a teenager.  Robert’s grandfather attempted to bring out as many other family members as he could, though many didn’t want to leave their home, thinking these were pogroms and they would pass. Sadly, many of these other family members perished in the Holocaust.

For years, Robert has been investigating the Holocaust, as the first mass genocide to be simultaneously photographed by perpetrators, bystanders, resistors, and victims, leaving history with a unique visual inventory of competing narratives and memories. His current project, The Power of Resilience and Hope – Photography and The Holocaust: Then & Now (2024), features 30 contemporary artists who describe how the Holocaust has impacted their lives. In conjunction with writers, they worked with archival material to create new imagery that delves into the complexities of the aftermath of the Shoah. Phase Two of the exhibit recently opened last weekend and runs at the CEPA Gallery through May 31st. For more information, visit the CEPA Gallery.

Robert, along with his wife Adele, will be traveling to Poland and Viena as part of Federation’s Exploring Our Roots trip next week. Robert explained that he had purposely avoided going to that part of the world because of all the awful things that happened there to his family and so many others. He feels that now the timing is right for him to see and experience it for himself.

We wish Robert, Adele and all the two dozen travelers a “Nesiya Tova,” a safe and meaningful journey.

Robert Hirsch - robert hirsch