A retired University of Minnesota pediatrician, who is also a visual artist and Holocaust survivor, will share a narrative of his experiences through his paintings, prose and music by the Cathedral Chamber Orchestra.
Dr. Robert Fisch’s presentation, “A Lesson of Love — Remain Humane Even in Inhumane Circumstances,” is set for 2 p.m., Oct. 21 at the Cathedral of St. Paul.
“The Fisch presentation is important to bring to the Cathedral from the standpoint that, for centuries, cathedrals have been a place where the arts and humanities meet,” said Robert Ridgell, the Cathedral’s director of sacred music.
Fisch’s art and presentation “allows our community to witness the love of God and neighbor,” Ridgell added.
The Cathedral Chamber Orchestra will offer musical meditations to accompany Fisch’s narration and images of his artwork presented on screen.
Fisch, a native of Budapest, Hungary, was sent to concentration camps at the age of 18. Later, under the Hungarian communist regime, he was directed to study medicine.
As a physician during the Hungarian revolution, Fisch risked his life to treat both rebels and communists in makeshift hospitals. “As a survivor, I believe we have a special obligation in being alive to stand against oppression and injustice,” Fisch said.
Still, Fisch only reluctantly started sharing his stories in the last 15 years following a request from a teacher in Pine City.
“Seven parents made up my first public audience and from there it all happened without any intention,” Fisch said, adding that his presentation does not emphasize horror or pain, but focuses on humanity.
“One injustice cannot correct another,” he said. “We need to learn from our experiences. Look deeper, and we will find that we have more similarities than differences. I have found that each generation must learn anew how to be civilized.”
When Fisch came to the United States in 1957, he became a medical intern and eventually a professor in pediatrics at the University of Minnesota, where he practiced and taught until his retirement. He is known internationally for his clinical research on PKU (phenylketonuria), a genetic disease which can lead to brain damage.
While working full time in medicine, Fisch nourished an artistic side, studying art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Budapest, Walker Art Center, University of Minnesota and Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
His work will be featured at the cathedral event.
Although the presentation is intended for an older audience, Fisch has developed teaching materials for classrooms that he distributes through his foundation, Light from the Yellow Star, and companion website.
The event, sponsored by the Cathedral Heritage Foundation, will be held in Hayden Hall on the lower level of the Cathedral, at the corners of Summit Avenue and John Ireland Boulevard in St. Paul. The suggested donation is $15; $5 for students and seniors.