NMSU branding

New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center




NMSU professor to give talk about artwork created to honor lives lost in Holocaust

New Mexico State University sculpture professor Rachel Stevens played a key role in a recent ceremony in the Ukranian City of Lviv.


Black background with 75 crystal keys lined up
NMSU art professor Rachel Stevens sculpted 75 glass keys based on an original synagogue key presented at a recent ceremony in the Ukranian City of Lviv on the 75th anniversary of the annihilation of the city’s Jewish population by Nazi Germany. (Photo courtesy of Rachel Stevens)
Woman’s hands holding rusted synagogue key
NMSU art professor Rachel Stevens holds the original key she discovered at a street market as part of her research in Lviv earlier this year into Jewish culture. (Photo courtesy Rachel Stevens)
Head and shoulders of a woman
Rachel Stevens, NMSU professor of art in the College of Arts and sciences. (NMSU photo by Robert Yee.)

Stevens created an installation comprised of 75 glass keys that were exhibited at the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe from May through August 2018. On Sept. 2, the keys were gifted to persons active in Jewish heritage and renewal on the 75th anniversary of the annihilation of the city’s Jewish population by Nazi Germany. She will be giving a lecture about her project at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20 at the University Art Gallery.

City authorities presented recipients with a replica based on a rusted synagogue key that Stevens discovered in a street market as part of her research in Lviv earlier this year into Jewish culture in a region formerly known as eastern Galicia.

Stevens says she used glass for the replicas because in the Jewish tradition the material represents “the fragility of life.” Creating them in glass “became a tangible way for me to express my grief about the past and my hope for the future.”

Stevens, a faculty member in the Department of Art in NMSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, traveled to Nepal in 2006 as part of the Fulbright Scholar Program. She has also served as a Fulbright Ambassador.