Sculptor and painter Norman Gorbaty to deliver Fairfield University's Samuel and Bettie Roberts Memorial Lecture in Jewish Art


"Torah""We owe it to those, who know nothing of our road that they be taught never to forget. Along with our sufferings as 'Jobs' of history, we have made, beyond our numbers, great impact on what we call civilization.And so, using the forms, shapes and symbols of Judaism, I honor my people."
-Norman Gorbaty

Anything that strikes artist Norman Gorbaty's fancy is ready for 'the doing:' birth, death, building, destruction, beauty, ugliness. "The wonder of it - the mystery of it all - of line, shape, color, space, and movement," said the sculptor and painter. 

But it is his Judaism that has most inspired his art. On Wednesday, Feb. 9, Gorbaty will discuss the Jewish themes that influence and prevail in his work when he delivers Fairfield University's 2011 Samuel and Bettie Roberts Memorial Lecture in Jewish Art. Presented by the university's Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies, the free lecture is entitled, "To Honor My People: Reflections of a Jewish Artist," and will take place in the Gonzaga Auditorium in Gonzaga Hall at 8 p.m. The event is made possible through an endowment from the children of Samuel and Bettie Roberts.

"In all my doing, Jewish themes keep emerging," said Gorbaty, 78, whose work has been shown at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), Brooklyn Museum, and Smith College Art Museum, among many other institutions. "Not unusual in that I am a Jew. These images speak to the joys and suffering of my people, and the contributions they have made to mankind. I make visual statements to save from anonymity those who have suffered for being Jews throughout history: to never forget the road we Jews are traveling."

Ellen M. Umansky, Ph.D., director of the Bennett Center for Judaic Studies, said she has great respect for Gorbaty, who has been a visiting lecturer at Yale and Carnegie Mellon Universities, among other institutions. "Drawing on his deep sense of Jewish self-identity, Norman uses art as remembrance," she said. "Through works that are astonishing in size, scope, and diversity of artistic expression, he makes us feel as if we are present at religious ceremonies that we have never seen and historical events that we have never witnessed."

The Brooklyn, New York native's eclectic and impressive resume includes designing posters for MOMA, Walker Art Institute and The Smithsonian, and working on the film title design of Woody Allen's 'Bananas' and 'Sleepers.' He has been a contributing designer for Time, Fortune and U.S. News & World Report. He earned an M.F.A. from Yale and a B.A. from Amherst College.

His talk complements two campus art exhibits of his work. His paintings, sculptures, and works on paper and wood will be featured in a unique display entitled "To Honor My People" in the university's Walsh Gallery in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts from January 27-March 27, 2011, in conjunction with a display of his works of a secular nature, which will be shown in the University's new Bellarmine Museum of Art in Bellarmine Hall.

The Walsh Gallery will be open on the day of the Roberts Memorial Lecture, from 11 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. In her essay on "To Honor My People," Diana Mille, Ph.D., director of Fairfield University's Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery, notes, "The works that comprise 'To Honor My People' are a memorial to acquaint fellow Jews and non-Jews alike with significant meaning which is intended to last." Gorbaty joins the gallery and museum directors, Mille and Dr. Jill Deupi (Bellarmine Museum of Art) for two free noontime gallery talks about his works on consecutive Wednesdays: Feb. 23 at the Walsh Art Gallery and March 2 at the Bellarmine Museum of Art. The Walsh Art Gallery hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 4 p.m.; closed Mondays. The Bellarmine Museum of Art hours: Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with Second Saturday family days from noon to 5 p.m.

Seating is limited for the Samuel and Bettie Roberts Memorial Lecture. For reservations, call (203) 254-4000, ext. 2066. Visit the Bennett Center at http://www.fairfield.edu/judaic/.

Image: "Torah," pastel work, 1999, by Norman Gorbaty.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on January 21, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 173