University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


  • Marlene Miller

    Shirley Samberg

    An American-born sculptor from Roslyn heights, NY and educated at Pratt Institute and Queens College. Samberg's sculptures represent a wide-range of expression and have focused more on issues of human suffering and the Holocaust. She has participated in exhibitions in the United States, Sweden, Poland, China, Israel and Japan.

    Samberg refers to her figural sculptures as “wrappings” encouraging individual interpretation. ┬áThe “wrappings” have been perceived as Holocaust memorials, the personification of grief, religious imagery and symbols of struggle and suffering.

    Artist Statement

    When asked to write about my sculpture, it is always a dilemma. What to say? With an artist it is always the material that speaks. When asked to create a stage set, I started gathering supplies. Burlap was one of the materials. It was very malleable and to me, appealing. I had been welding at the time and needed a change. The challenge of using fabric with wood and earth elements appealed to me. The images seemed to spring from sources deep within me that I wasn't aware of. The dark and brooding sculptures took on a life of their own. I worked with a compulsion I didn't know I possessed. One figure emerged after another. Those who saw them were moved by the dark wellspring of grief. Grief for the loss of loved ones. Grief for the Holocaust. Grief for war, poverty and homelessness...and the list goes on.

    Artworks: Witness and Legacy

    #15 from Wrappings. detail

    #15 from Wrappings,1984 (detail) Wood, burlap, paint and glue

    "Wrappings" make both general and specific statements about human suffering.

    #15 from the Wrappings. detail

    Detail of #15 From the Wrappings.

    #15 from the Wrappings

    #15 from Wrappings,1984 (detail) Wood, burlap, paint and glue

    The Jewish tradition forbids creation of human forms as a violation of the second Commandment. However, one may ask if these are truly human forms, or something less?

    #15 from Wrappings. detail Detail of #15 From the Wrappings.

    Page updated 2013.