Just five years ago, Rowan completed a teaching residency at the Breck School, inspired by the life of local Holocaust survivor Joe Grosnacht. After hearing 17 stories from before, during, and after Joe’s time in three concentration camps, Breck students each created a work of art based on one of Joe’s stories. The project, made possible in part by a Project Support grant from Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council, led to a moving book called Six Chairs, also funded by Rimon.
Breck’s mostly non-Jewish staff, students, and parents were deeply impacted by the experience, said David Harris, Rimon’s executive director. “Art can create amazing channels for understanding and empathy.”
David shared the story of Rowan’s residency and book at a Minneapolis Jewish Federation board meeting. It was through a connection made by one of the board members at that meeting that Rowan was introduced to the prints and drawings curator at Mia.
“If I hadn’t gotten the [Rimon] grant, I wouldn’t have been able to make Six Chairs, and without that, I wouldn’t have made any of the connections I did, let alone sold something to Mia,” Rowan said. “One thing really led to another, which was fascinating. I’m truly grateful.”
Rowan’s journey as an artist embodies the Rimon mission: to promote and enhance Jewish identity through arts and culture, support arts and artists who broadly explore Jewish themes, and to assist the greater Minnesota Jewish community in developing a collaborative involvement with the arts.
“We never know how a seed planted in an unlikely location with the proper nourishment will bear fruit,” said David.
Want more inspiring stories? View the Spring/Summer issue of Minneapolis Jewish Life here.
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