Holocaust survivor and American artist Samuel Bak was honored Friday by Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, where he addressed 85 graduating seniors during the school’s commencement ceremony.
Bak is known to paint allegorical and landscape scenes that depict the Holocaust and his experience of it as a Jewish boy growing up during World War II in Lithuania.
He spoke to the Montserrat graduates of hope that can be found even in the darkest hours of a life.
“Hope is not an empty word,” Bak said, according to a press release from the college. “The society in which we live is far from perfect, and there is much that the younger generation will have to do, daringly, forcefully, and enthusiastically, to improve it.”
“You, young people have before you a terrific task … The opportunities that you are now given are colossal. Your input will be of the greatest importance, and all I could add to what I said is: With all my best wishes, good luck,” the release said.
Montserrat hosted an exhibit on Bak’s work at its gallery this winter. His honorary degree was presented by two students who helped to install the exhibit, the college said.
Bak was one of several speakers at the ceremony was held at the Cabot Theater in Beverly and live-streamed for family and friends of the graduating seniors who could not attend.
Erein James Ruiz, of River Edge, N.J., who studied interdisciplinary arts, was the elected by his peers as the student speaker
“We as artists can face those problems by literally making stuﬀ!” Ruiz said to his fellow graduates. “And we can empower others to do the same thing ... It’s scary to work your way around a life you’re unsure of alone. And in those times we feel like we should stop. But don’t stop. Continue to make that choice to keep creating.”
Madison Mercado can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.