The University of Texas at San Antonio Department of Art and Art History hosted “Breakthrough! Twenty Years After German Unification – Critical Perspectives of Berlin Artists,” which displayed sculptures, paintings and photographs by dissident artists of the former East Germany. The presentation of the artwork is touring in only five United States cities. It highlights the work of ten visual artists from former East Germany who beared hardships such as harassment, imprisonment and exile under the Communist regime before the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall and the resultant reunification of Germany one year later.

The featured artists were Gerald Adam Hahn, Harold Hauswald, Peter Herrmann, Thomas Klingenstein, Wolfgang Petrick, Frank Rodel, Hans Scheib, Inge H. Schmidt, Reinhard Stangl and Robert Weber. The event was curated by Helen C. Frederick and organized by the Breakththrough Art Organization.

Angelica Jansen, representative of the San Antonio Dresden Alliance and a UTSA College of Liberal and Fine Arts Advisory Board acknowledges that, “All of these artists suffered for their work and fought for the right to have freedom and artistic expression.”

Jansen escaped from from East Germany in 1964. At that time she was 20 years old and was in search for a higher quality of life. She has been beneficial in bringing “Breakthrough!” to the university and San Antonio in general. In speaking in regards of the artists, Jansen adds, “We hope San Antonians come out to meet them, hear their stories and view their work.”

Jeff Thines, a recognized expert in German- American relations, founded Breakthrough Art Organization in 2009.  The organization which is nonprofit is based in Washington, D.C.  The organization advocates artists whose art use the art to define the overcoming of social, political, and personal hurdles. Thines reported that, “By bringing this program to the U.S. to mark the 20th anniversary of a reunited Germany, “Breakthrough!” aims to remind American audiences of the basic freedoms enshrined in our First Amendment and inspire them to stand against threats to those freedoms.”

The gallery had various sculptures, paintings, and pictures that depicted certain messages such as groups trying to stand by their beliefs. Some pictures even showed some of the struggle that was endured during that particular time. Much thought and meaning were contained within the art pieces.

The gallery hours are Monday-Friday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 1-4 p.m., and also individuals can set up appointments upon request.

“Breakthrough!” has been running since Oct. 28. It will continue until Nov. 17 in the UTSA Art Gallery on the main campus.

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