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SSU memorial honors victims of genocide
10-foot-tall sculpture made of glass and railroad track to be dedicated Sunday

  • Jann Nunn has spent thousands of hours working on her Holocaust and Genocide Memorial sculpture that will be dedicated on the grounds of Sonoma State University Sunday, March 29. (KENT PORTER / Press Democrat)

Sculptor and Sonoma State professor Jann Nunn chose heavy steel and luminous glass in her piece to honor and remember victims of the Holocaust and other genocides as a way to offer hope while remembering pain.

The memorial, dedicated to those who suffered and died in the Holocaust and other genocides around the world, will be dedicated at 3 p.m. Sunday in Alumni Grove on the SSU campus.

The keynote speaker at the lakeside ceremony will be Rwanda's ambassador to the United Nations, Joseph Nsengimana. Other speakers will represent ethnic and national groups who have suffered genocide in Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and North America.

"I chose glass because I wanted to have illumination in the area at all times," Nunn said.

The sculpture includes a 10-foot-tall tower made of 5,000 pieces of glass. It will be illuminated by sunlight during the day and internal lights at night.

Nunn finished installing the work on campus Wednesday, capping two years of work and a year of planning and designing.

"I did a lot of research, a lot of reading and talking to people and watching films and thinking about symbolism that would be significant to portray genocide but not be too morose," Nunn said.

Despite the heavy topic, Nunn said she wanted the piece to be "hopeful."

The memorial consists of 45 feet of railroad track that merge at a 10-foot-tall, illuminated glass tower made of 5,000 individual pieces, and bricks engraved with the names of some genocide survivors inlaid around the tracks.

To raise money for the $100,000 memorial, engraved bricks were sold for $100 and $250. The bricks have been purchased by people from the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, North Carolina, Nebraska and Canada.

The memorial is in the Erna and Arthur Salm Grove at the edge of the lake in Alumni Grove. The memorial is named after the parents of David Salm, a Santa Rosa businessman and a major contributor to the project.

The project is sponsored by the Center for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide and School of Social Sciences at SSU, the Alliance for the Study of the Holocaust of Sonoma County and private citizens.

A reception at the Campus Commons will follow the 3 p.m. dedication. It is free to the public.

Staff Writer Kerry Benefield writes an education blog at extracredit.pressdemocrat.com. She can be reached at 526-8671 or kerry.benefield@pressdemocrat

.com.

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