Robert Katz


Robert Katz, born in 1950, grew up in the Bronx and 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.  Beyond traditional object and form, this is an art in which we can be the media, our lives the process, mankind and nature the ever-renewed product.”    

Robert Katz went on to teach drawing, design and sculpture classes at Oberlin College in Ohio, and at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Living in Maine since 1981, Katz is 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.

Nationally, his sculptures, drawings and installation projects have been exhibited in numerous one person and group exhibitions at museums and galleries, 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 and the Yellowstone Art Center in Montana; and Gallery 401 at the Jewish Community Center in Providence, Rhode Island. 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. 

Additionally, 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; the University of North Carolina; the Minneapolis College of Art and Design; the University of Maryland; the Academy of Fine Arts and the Center for Jewish Culture in Krakow, Poland; and the Seeds of Peace International Camp in Otisfield, Maine.

He has presented his work 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 at Beit Berl Academic College in Israel (2009); and at the Newhouse School of Communication at Syracuse University (2009). In 2011, his artwork was featured at the Can-Am Unplugged symposium at Medicine Hat College in Alberta, Canada.

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. In 2001, he was the project director for Interactive Digital Field Season, a website designed to monitor the wolf research at the invitation of the International Center of Ecology and the Polish Academy of Science.

Influenced by his trips to Israel and Poland, his art during the past twenty years has explored issues of Jewish identity, family remembrance, social memory and the Holocaust.

Katz was invited to present a lecture, Building Art and Memory: A Personnel Exploration into Jews Identity and the Holocaust ( 2012) at the Phillips Museum in Pennsylvania. He also presented his work at the Jews in Modern Visual Culture Conference in Manchester, England and in 2014, he was a guest speaker at Oxford and Cambridge Universities.

In 2012, Katz was invited to China as one of seven North American artists to be to participate in the West Meets East Exhibition at the Jiangsu Art Academy and he was a guest artist at Nanjing University, Jiangsu Normal University and at Changzhou University.

In reviewing Katz's art, critic Philip lsaacson wrote that I can accept [Katz's sculptures] as shrines to an agony that decent people must confront throughout eternity. You can light a candle before any of them." 

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