Artist statement: March 4th, 2022

My last name is Barancik.

I have been told by Polish friends that it means little ram.

It is also a pejorative term for a stubborn "block head."

Many friends would agree that it is an appropriate surname.

According to both family lore and, I have the DNA of an Ashkenazi Jew from Poland and Eastern Europe. I have always had a deep feeling for their music, graphic art, literature, food, and humor.

No surprise there.

As a young man, the stories of I.B. Singer's prewar Jewish Poland resonated deeply in my subconscious mind. Forty-five years later, I still can clearly recall the master Yiddish storyteller's choice phrases and all-too-human characters from a vanished world.

Likewise, with the photographs of Roman Vishniac.

He documented the prewar Jewish villages, towns, and Jewish sections of cities just before the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939 and the subsequent genocide of around 3,000,000 Polish Jews. 

Vishniac and Singer gave me voices and visions that became seed crystals that grew into a large body of creative work over the decades. This includes paintings, prints, handmade artist's books, and videos.

This online folio contains a video that I produced in 1999 and digital prints that were just finished last week.

Before exploring the online artwork and new media, I suggest that you read the short essays by Dr. Abraham Peck and David Kriebel about the Warsaw Ghetto. It will help you to put the imagery into a historical context.

Dr. Peck is an eminent Jewish scholar, who was born to Polish-Jewish Holocaust survivors in a displaced persons camp after the end of World War II. The family emigrated to the United States when he was a small child. In his short piece, Abe looks at what the Warsaw Ghetto could mean to young, contemporary Americans.

Dr. Kriebel is an anthropologist with deep family roots in the mid-Atlantic section of America. He looks at the Warsaw Ghetto largely through the lens of my art.

Here is a web link to both essays:

I would like to end my brief artist's statement with a quote by Matthew Baigell, an art historian who has thought deeply about Post-Holocaust art and artists. 

It came to my attention decades ago and I often refer back to it for understanding my creative journey:

"Making art about the Holocaust is a personal way of witnessing, of commemorating…and questions about how one should or should not proceed are really irrelevant. There is no 'proper" point of entry into any sort of narrative about the Holocaust, no appropriate way to establish a bond between the dead and the living or between the past and present."

Contact Bob Barancik
cell+text: 215.964.3937

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