MFA Thesis

Graphic Expression of Internment

Three Photo Albums From
The United States
Holocaust Memorial Museum


Graphic Expression of Internment refers to the specific representation of shared graphic art and artifacts of the Holocaust. The graphic nature of the three photo albums/scrapbooks addresses the planned or articulated language of design. The design process connotes editorial decisions made in the process of articulated planning in their planning and creation. By definition, graphic design is an art or profession of visual communication that skillfully combines images, words, and ideas to convey information to an audience. Graphic design can also be a form of personal expression that reflects the attitudes of the community for which the work is intended. This collection looks at the expressive nature of design in its ability to structure content, creating a greater inclusive narrative. Unlike a stack of collected photographs and album presumes a continued theme or progression. Un affected photo albums have no notation of content; there exists no context that identifies cohesiveness themes of known categories for inclusion. Often photo albums are a chronological placement of people, places, and events placed in rhythmical sequence directly ordered according to the prescribed time-line. Photo albums may contain prescribed descriptions, or identify people, places, and dates.

Photo albums or scrapbooks have a different agenda. The photo albums in this collection have specific purpose and intent—to document and preserve the experience of place through the extended narrative of applied design. Organized albums imply careful attention to drawn similarities and the process of editing is crucial. The focused attention connotes a cohesive selection. One can imagine a vast subjective material, the critical methodology used for selection, or negation, delivers a finished cohesive album. The specific graphic attention expresses common visual themes such as documentation, preservation, dedication, and memorial; reinforced by the medium itself.

“To a family with a golden heart. They’re gone but the memory stays.”

This book is dedicated to the creators of theses photo albums and their extended families in remembrance, Mrs. Trude Friedler, Mrs. Phyllis Prosaw, and Mrs. Mimi Peckham.

May their memory never fade.

There were many forms of designed objects and ephemera. Items created in harshly restrictive environments have different visual characteristics than objects in comparatively relaxed situations. The graphic works created in Jewish ghettos for example have a feeling of immediacy about them. I am repeatedly drawn to graphic works created by Jews during the Holocaust. Common forms of graphic communication include: maps, signage, camp insignias, newspapers and periodical, and documents of many forms. In rare instances, Jewish designers worked for the resistance creating forged Nazi documents for the direct survival of individuals. It is hard to imagine design to be so active in such a dire state of existence. Design commonly reflects cultural and social development, so to does design aptly capture the visual aesthetics of life in internment. These albums do not present us with ‘graphic’ images of death and destruction, pain and suffering, or darkness one typically associates with the Holocaust. The graphic attitudes in these three albums celebrate optimistic rehabilitation.


There has been previous research offered of artwork created amidst the Holocaust, often focusing on children’s artwork, or clandestine subjective representation of experience and observations. Rarely historical research looks to analyze ‘designed’ artifacts from the Holocaust. My intentions are to illuminate and highlight such works, and to place them in the history of graphic design as important contributions to the expressive history of the medium. The objective nature of design better justly suits strict documentation of the Holocaust. However, the deeply personal experience of the Holocaust embeds the personality and circumstances of the individual and the collective experience of the community.




Editorial Voice



Holocaust Art

Displacement Camps (DP camps)

Art & Artifacts



Reference Material



Graphic Expression of Internment Three Photo Albums from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum First Edition © 2008 United States Holocaust Memorial Museum John P. Corrigan All rights reserved under pan-American copyright conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means—electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage-and-retrieval system—without permission in writing from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and/or John P Corrigan. Every reasonable attempt has been made to identify owners of copyright. Errors or omissions will be corrected in subsequent editions. Written and Designed by John P Corrigan 1st Edition printed by

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