Art Spiegelman related his parents’ harrowing struggle to survive the Holocaust in his Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel. The author/illustrator will visit Northern Arizona University this month.
Spiegelman will present “Comix 101” for International Holocaust Remembrance Day at 7 p.m. Jan. 27 in Ardrey Auditorium on the NAU campus. The event is sponsored by the Martin-Springer Institute.
Spiegelman’s presentation will explore the relationship between art and tolerance, with a focus on his Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Maus: A Survivor’s Tale and his more recent work In the Shadow of No Towers.
Maus: A Survivor’s Tale is a memoir recounting the story of Spiegelman’s father, Vladek Spiegelman, a Holocaust survivor. The story also reveals the somewhat difficult personal relationship between the father and son.
The graphic novel, consisting of two volumes, Volume I, “My Father Bleeds History” and Volume II, “And Here My Troubles Began,” earned a Pulitzer Prize Special Award in 1992.
Vladek Spiegelman worked as a salesman before being drafted into the Polish Army at the outbreak of World War II. Both he and his wife, Anja, were imprisoned by the Germans during the Holocaust. They were liberated from the Nazi concentration camps in 1945.
In the depiction of Vladek’s story, each nationality or group is portrayed as an anthropomorphic animal; Nazis are cats, Jews are mice and the Polish are pigs.
In September 2004, Spiegelman released In the Shadow of No Towers, in which he relates his experience of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the psychological after-effects.
“Throughout history, artists and their works have created spaces for us to examine ourselves and our society,” said Gretchen McAllister, director of the Martin-Springer Institute. “Mr. Spiegelman’s work and his talk at NAU will draw our attention to the power of the arts to provide an opportunity for reflection and discussion about difficult issues such as genocide and violence.”
Spiegelman was a staff artist and writer for The New Yorker from 1993-2003 and co-created Garbage Pail Kids stickers and cards. In 2005, Time magazine named Spiegelman one of its “Top 100 Most Influential People” and he was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France. In 2007, Spiegelman starred as himself inThe Simpsons episode “Husbands and Knives.”
Students can attend the Jan. 27 event for free, although tickets are required. For others, tickets will be $7 each. To obtain tickets please call the NAU Ticketing Office at (928) 523-5661. For information, visit nau.edu/msi.