Robert Katz




Robert Katz, born in 1950, grew up in Brooklyn, New York. He studied at the Brooklyn Museum Art School and received his undergraduate degree in studio art from New York University. In 1973, he left his urban upbringing, packed his belongings in a VW minivan, and traveled west. He settled near the banks of the Clarkfork and Bitterroot Rivers and established a studio in the shadow of the northern Rockies.  The vast cattle ranches, abundance of wildlife, openness of the landscape and his work with Native American communities became important new influences upon his artistic process. A few years later, he earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from the University of Montana. 

In 1979, art historian C. Dyer wrote, “Katz’s works are of the world and are inextricably bound to its rhythms, as well as ours; it is from this condition that their messages derive such power. His art reflects his odyssey. It reaches to those sharing in it, speaking both of the commonly experienced world and of the essentials transcending it; it brings them back to the primal characteristics of the elements, reinvesting them with meaning, guiding the way back to the path.” 

Robert Katz went on to teach drawing, design and sculpture classes serving on the faculty of Oberlin College in Ohio, and at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Living in Maine since 1981, Katz is currently a professor of art at the University of Maine at Augusta, where he has been awarded both the Libra and Trustee Professorships.

In Maine, Katz has exhibited at the Barn Gallery in Ogunquit, the Danforth and Harlow galleries, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art and the Center for Maine Contemporary Art. He has also been commissioned to create Percent for Art projects in the Maine communities of Auburn, Benton and Waldoboro.

In addition, his sculptures, drawings and installation projects have been exhibited in numerous one person and group exhibitions including: the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Ridgefield, Connecticut; Hundred Acres Gallery, New York City; the Art Academy of Cincinnati; Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Missouri; the Missoula Museum of the Arts, the Yellowstone Art Center in Montana. In 2010, his sculpture was included in a group invitational entitled Seduced by the Sacred: Forging A Jewish Art at the Mandell Gallery in Hartford, Connecticut. In 2012, he was one of seven North American artists to be included in West Meets East Exhibition at the Jiangsu Chinese Art Academy, Nanjing, China. In 2016, his sculptural installation, The Five Books of Moses was exhibited at the Derfner Judaica Museum in Riverdale, NY.  This project has been gifted to the List Visual Arts Center at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts where it is on permanent display.

His installation/performance projects have been exhibited at the March Gallery in Richmond, Virginia; (The Day of the Dinosaur) Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford, Connecticut (Fragments of Dispersion), the University of Maryland (Journey Home) and the Medalta Historic Pottery Site in Alberta, Canada (Where Have All the Children Gone?)

He has served as a visiting artist and lecturer at many institutions including the Montana and Missouri Arts Councils; the University of Richmond (1983); the University of North Carolina (1988); the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (1988) The University of Maryland (2001); The Academy of Fine Arts and the Center for Jewish Culture in Krakow, Poland (1998); the Seeds of Peace International Camp (1996-1998) and at the Center for Hebrew and Jewish Studies at Oxford University in England (2014).

His work has been featured at international conferences including Maine Remembers the Holocaust at Bates College (1997); Building History: Art, Myth and Memory in Augsburg, Dachua and Munich, Germany (1998); Legacy of the Holocaust at Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland (2008); Creativity and the Arts in the Holocaust and Woman and the Holocaust Conference at Beit Berl Academic College in Israel (2009 and 2013); the Newhouse School of Communication at Syracuse University (2009); Modern Visual Culture at Manchester Metropolitan University, England (2013);  Southern Connecticut State University (2013); the Interfaith Programme at Cambridge University in England (2014); The Can-Am Unplugged Symposium at Medicine Hat College in Alberta, Canada (2011); at the Nexus Centre for Humanities at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador and at the Canadian Immigration Museum in Halifax (2018).

In 1987, Robert Katz was invited to participate in the seventeenth seminar in Israel for American Academicians sponsored by the American Jewish Committee. Two years later, Robert Katz received the Payson Foundation Fellowship that provided him the resources to join a research team of wildlife biologists studying a wolf population in the remote Carpathian Mountains of southeastern, Poland.

Influenced by his trips to Israel and Poland, his art during the past twenty years has explored issues of Jewish identity, family remembrance, and the Holocaust. His video/acoustic installation at the Klahr Center for Holocaust Education Center entitled, Were The House Still Standing (2007) weaves together the testimony of sixteen survivors and liberators who rebuilt their lives in the State of Maine. This project has been viewed by thousands of students and educators.