Deborah Silver What If Einstein Had Been a Passenger on the St. Louis? 2018 Wool, cotton, burnt and distressed wood, pen and ink on burnt vellum, copper-coated aluminum, barbed wire abacus, copper nails, oil paint, copper decimal point 35" X 22"
This piece contains approximately 907 woven flames representing the Jews on the MS St. Louis who were denied entry into the United States and sent back to Europe. (254 black flames/skulls for each of those Jews murdered by the Nazis.) As I researched the history of the MS St. Louis, I found many similarities in attitudes towards immigrants today, including fear of competition for jobs, xenophobia, nativism, isolationism, and fear of criminal activity, spies, and foreign agents. These fears were echoed by US leaders in Congress, who let a bill die in committee that would have raised the quota to allow 20,000 Jewish children from Germany to emigrate. This was after Kristallnacht and after US leaders knew that concentration camps existed. I also find the attitude toward poor immigrants as having little value to be abhorrent, as all my grandparents arrived here with little money and no college degrees.