Art faculty's 'Berlin Story' graphic narrative explores Nazi horrors

ABINGTON, Pa. — The graphic narrative may seem like an unconventional format to explore the savagery of Nazi Germany, but melding text, sketches and reality makes perfect sense to Emily Steinberg. The lecturer in art at Penn State Abington employs the graphic art form to share personal stories, as previously seen in her acclaimed graphic novel “Broken Eggs,” that shared the despair she endured as an infertility patient.

Steinberg's latest narrative is “Berlin Story: Time, Memory, Place,” featured in Cleaver Magazine. The 19 haunting, heavily inked panels crammed with printed text were dually inspired by childhood memories of her Holocaust education in Hebrew school and a recent visit to Berlin for an exhibition featuring "Broken Eggs.”

The narrative depicts the site of the Wannsee conference, where Nazi leaders wined and dined in a neoclassical-style villa while unveiling the extermination policy for Europe's Jewish population. In reference to the Nazis hope to erase the Jewish population from the entire continent, Steinberg’s illustrations are lacking any trace of human life.

Emily Steinberg

A page from the graphic novel “Berlin Story: Time, Memory, Place" by Emily Steinberg.

Image: Emily Steinberg

Steinberg, who teaches the graphic narrative at Abington, first delved into the technique more than a decade ago.

“I not only wanted to make visual imagery, as in my paintings, but I also wanted to tell stories as well,” the artist said. “I found that the combination of words and images created a visceral way of storytelling.”

“Most of my material is autobiographical,” Steinberg continued. “Stories that have happened to me along
 the way have shaped my being.”

One of Steinberg’s earliest published graphic narratives, the celebrated memoir "Graphic Therapy," depicts her life as a single artist and working through psychoanalysis. Her other efforts include "Blogging Towards Oblivion," "The Modernist Cabin," and "A Midsummer Soiree."

Steinberg teaches painting and drawing, and the graphic novel among other art courses at Abington.

Emily Steinberg

A page from the graphic novel “Berlin Story: Time, Memory, Place" by Emily Steinberg.

Image: Emily Steinberg

About Penn State Abington

Penn State Abington offers baccalaureate degrees in 19 majors at its suburban location just north of Philadelphia. Nearly half of its 4,000 students complete all four years at Abington, with opportunities in undergraduate research, the Schreyer honors program, NCAA Division III athletics and more.

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Last Updated January 22, 2018