Around Town: Traveling Holocaust education exhibit comes to Asheville

NEVER FORGET: The Cattle Car: Stepping In and Out of Darkness arrives in Asheville this month. “We hope that this exhibit provides a unique, high-quality Holocaust education experience to Asheville and WNC,” says Ashley Lasher, executive director of the Asheville JCC. Photo courtesy of Hate Ends Now

Recent months have seen a gunman take hostages at a Texas synagogue and a Tennessee school board vote to remove Maus, the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the experiences of Holocaust survivors, from its curriculum.

That’s why Ashley Lasher sees it as a particularly poignant time to educate people about the dangers of antisemitism.

“Education is the most powerful tool that we have to ensure that our world never forgets the atrocities of the Holocaust or risks allowing history to repeat itself,” says Lasher, executive director of the Asheville Jewish Community Center.

The Cattle Car: Stepping In and Out of Darkness, a traveling education exhibit, will be at Pack Square on Friday, March 11, and Sunday, March 13, and at the Asheville JCC Monday-Tuesday, March 14-15.

The exhibit is an immersive, multimedia presentation that takes place inside an exact replica of a cattle car used to transport Jews and other targeted groups to concentration camps during World War II. It comes to Asheville as part of the Hate Ends Now tour, a partnership between ShadowLight and Southern NCSY.

“Our Western North Carolina community is home to a number of Holocaust survivors, some of whom plan to visit the exhibit,” Lasher says. “With each passing year, there are fewer and fewer survivors alive to tell their firsthand stories to the next generation. This exhibit uses the tools of audio, video and 360-degree projection to present survivor stories, enabling visitors to have an immersive experience that builds both understanding and empathy.”

She says the exhibit provides an unprecedented opportunity for local school groups, houses of worship, civic groups, service clubs and others to participate in this type of Holocaust education without having to travel to Washington, D.C., or abroad.

The Cattle Car: Stepping In and Out of Darkness will run 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on Friday, March 11, and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, March 13, in Pack Square. It will be open 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Monday, March 14, and Tuesday, March 15, at the Asheville JCC, 40 Clyde St.

The exhibit is free, but registration is required for the Asheville JCC. For more information or to register, visit

Standing with Ukraine

Asheville artist Andrea Kulish was born in the United States, but she spoke only Ukrainian until she was 3 years old. Her life’s passion, she says, is to share Ukrainian culture through the pysanky eggs she creates in her Studio A at Pink Dog Creative Collective in the River Arts District.

“All of my ancestors — great-grandparents, grandparents and parents — were from Ukraine,” she says. “My upbringing was steeped in Ukrainian culture. I have a deep love for it.”

With the eyes of the world on Ukraine following the Russian invasion of the country, Kulish is making and selling #standwithUkraine stickers available for purchase at her studio, 344 Depot St., with a suggested donation of $5-$10. All proceeds will benefit the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America’s humanitarian aid fund.

“The funds will be directed at civilians inside Ukraine who have been displaced or injured, as well as to four military hospitals caring for injured soldiers,” Kulish says.

In addition, Kulish is planning to donate 50% of all pysanky egg sales through the end of March. She is also in the midst of planning a benefit concert.

“My heart goes out to everyone in Ukraine,” she says.

For more information, visit

Working together

The Canopy Gallery at Art Garden AVL will present Medicine Heart Murals, an exhibition of original large-scale collaborative paintings, through Thursday, March 31. A closing reception will be Saturday, March 26, 4-7 p.m.

The murals, done by Asheville artists and Art Garden co-founders Annie Kyla Bennett, Dillon Endico and Jack Henry, highlight concepts of land justice and environmental urgency. On display will be five originals, two archival canvas prints representing murals in private collections and one in-progress piece that the artists plan to work on during the reception.

The pieces were created by the three artists in front of audiences at music and art festivals around the country.

“We like to incorporate stories and truth and magic from each specific place, bringing awareness to the land that is making the art and the experience possible,” Bennett says. “As our collaborative practice has developed over time, this has come to mean learning and sharing about the land’s original caretakers, the Indigenous peoples of the region, and about the present ecological realities and struggles of the land as well.”

For instance, the murals include plants that highlight local medicinals and flora, she says. “New Growth,” a piece created in Northern California during fire season, includes pyrophytes, plants that have adapted to tolerate fire.

“In creating these artworks, we hope to provide a safe and potent space for contemplation,” she says.

A portion of proceeds from the exhibit will be donated to Honor the Earth, an organization of land and water protectors led by Anishinaabe women.

The Canopy Gallery at Art Garden AVL is at 191 Lyman St. and is open Thursdays-Sundays, 11 a.m.-5 p.mFor more information, visit

Fighting words

Asheville Community Theatre will present Fight Girl Battle World starting Friday, March 11, at 7:30 p.m. The sci-fi show, which blends stage combat, puppetry and multimedia, will run Thursdays-Sundays through Sunday, March 27.

“Set in a futuristic universe where humanity is nearly nonexistent, Fight Girl revolves around E-V, a hard-nosed prizefighter and the last known female human in the galaxy,” ACT says in a press release. “Amidst the aliens and the androids, E-V must fight to keep the human race from being completely obliterated.”

Written by Qui Nguyen and directed by Josh Batenhorst, the production stars Michelle Palau as E-V.

Thursday-Saturday performances will be at 7:30 p.m., while Sunday shows will be at 2:30 p.m. Audience members for all performances are required to wear masks throughout the performance. For Friday and Saturday performances, all patrons ages 5 and older will be required to show either proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 or proof of a negative lab-conducted PCR test for COVID-19 taken within 48 hours of the performance. Thursday and Sunday performances will not require proof of vaccination or negative tests.

ACT is located at 35 E. Walnut St. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to

Classroom creations

The Black Mountain Center for the Arts will present Emerging Artists, a show of images created by artist Bob Travers and his students over the last year, through Friday, March 25. The show will be in the center’s upper gallery, which is open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Travers is a nationally recognized wildlife artist who works in such mediums as acrylics, watercolor, oil, scratchboard, colored pencil, charcoal and pastel. For 16 years, he has taught students in the basement of the BMCA, an area that used to be the town’s jail.

The Black Mountain Center for the Arts is at 225 W. State St. in Black Mountain. For more information, visit

Five alive

The Asheville Chamber Music Series will present the Calefax Reed Quintet in concert on Friday, March 11, at 8 p.m., at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville.

The Dutch group, which describes itself as as a “classical ensemble with a pop mentality,” consists of an oboe, a clarinet, a saxophone, a bass clarinet and a bassoon.

“They provide inspiration to young wind players from all over the world who follow in their footsteps,” the ACMS says in a press release.

The quintet’s program will include Antonin Dvořák’s String Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 97, Harry Thacker Burleigh’s “Southland Sketches,” Samuel Barber’s “Excursions, Op. 20” and George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville is at 1 Edwin Place. Tickets are $40 general admission. Youths are free. To purchase tickets or for more information, go to

Helping the homeless

Homeward Bound is hosting the Open Your Heart for Women and Homelessness Luncheon on Friday, March 11, at noon.

The luncheon will be a hybrid event, taking place in person at Trinity Episcopal Church as well as on Zoom.

A panel of experts will explore the impact of homelessness on mothers and families. The panel includes Jessica Bain, youth and family peer support specialist; Tammy Cody of the Mountain Area Health Education Center’s Project CARA; and Alanna Kinsella and Sunni Morgan of Homeward Bound.

Trinity Episcopal Church is at 60 Church St. For more information or to register for the in-person or virtual event, go to


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About Justin McGuire
Justin McGuire is a UNC Chapel Hill graduate with more than 30 years of experience as a writer and editor. His work has appeared in The Sporting News, the (Rock Hill, SC) Herald and various other publications. Follow me @jmcguireMLB

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