Currently on display at the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, visitors are able to view and contemplate a solo exhibition of personal art works by School of Art + Art History director, Richard Heipp, in an exhibit entitled The Germanic Guilt Symbols: 1988-1993.
A child of German immigrants growing up in post-World War II America, Heipp grew up hearing his family talk about the ‘old country.’ “My family was from Yugoslavia, but maintained a strong cultural German identity even though they were not German citizens,” says Heipp. “They had a distant relationship with Germany that was kind of idealized.
I actually did not realize, until I was a young adult, that my parents were not actually originally from Germany and were in fact not 'real’ Germans.”
As a young adult, Heipp began to look into the history of the war, his family’s role in it and into the wealth of propaganda imagery. In the late 1980s, he began to develop a series of photorealist paintings, drawings and prints layered with metaphors and symbols addressing cultural issues surrounding political or personal security and fear. His work combines these symbols with family photos tissued with images taken from Nazi propaganda. This body of paintings laid the groundwork for Heipp's more recent work addressing issues of looking and seeing that feature prosthetic eyes that represent the idea of cultural blindness.
“The Germanic Guilt Symbol series strives to create metaphors, not just addressing the war or the Holocaust, but about personal security or fear of trusting your culture or government,” Heipp explains.
Heipp hopes the work, among many things, also serves to remind of the dangers of extremist nationalism and the victims of the atrocities of war.
The exhibition will be on display at the museum until April 19, 2015.