New Spertus Institute Exhibition Invites Guests into the World of Renowned Writer and Philosopher Hannah Arendt 


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Visitors to the Ground Level Arts Lab Chicago’s Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership are invited to step into The Three Escapes of Hannah ArendtNew Yorker cartoonist, writer and educator  Ken Krimstein’s page-turning graphic biography of the fascinating Hannah Arendt, one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century, and a 2018 National Jewish Book Award finalist.

Krimstein’s original illustrations, sketches and artwork for the critically acclaimed graphic work (Bloomsbury Publishing, September 25, 2018) will be on view, showing the process involved in the book’s creation. At the free exhibition opening on Thursday, March 14, 2019, Krimstein will be interviewed about his research and artistic process by Alexandra Salomon, editor of WBEZ's Curious City. 

Through Krimstein’s work, visitors will be able to eavesdrop on the freewheeling conversations of intellectual life in pre-WWII Europe, populated with the artists, writers, and thinkers Arendt encountered—including Marc Chagall, Marlene Dietrich, Walter Benjamin, Albert Einstein, and Sigmund Freud. They will be able to explore Krimstein’s portrayal of the complicated and courageous choices Arendt made during some of history’s darkest days.

Hannah Arendt is known as a political theorist. Her powerful landmark 1951 publication, "The Origins of Totalitarianism," advocates for openness in political life. Newly relevant, it resonates with readers again today.

​Krimstein spent two-and-a-half years reading Arendt’s work. As he dug deeper, everything about her drew him in. He noted, “I don’t want to sound like some kind of crazy fan boy, but literally, the breadth of her thinking blew me away. I’ve been so influenced by what she has to say about art, poetry, and people, beyond totalitarianism. Her character really appealed to me because she was very strong, questioning, and bold, and I tried to show that. She was so engaged with the world and took it so seriously that she sometimes made mistakes, but she never did anything in half measures.” By unconventionally using graphic non-fiction to illustrate Arendt’s world of ideas, Krimstein brings urgency to her struggle to find meaning.

​Consistent with the goals of Spertus Institute’s Ground Level Arts Lab, The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt creatively introduces a key chapter of the Jewish experience and shines a spotlight on its relevance for today.

The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt is free and open to the public Sundays 10 am – 5 pm, Mondays–Wednesdays 9 am– 5 pm, Thursdays 9 am– 6 pm, and Fridays 9 am–3 pm. Spertus Institute is located at 610 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago.

​A free opening reception with author Ken Frimstein will be held from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 14, 2019. At 6:30 p.m., Krimstein will be interviewed by Alexandra Salomon, editor of WBEZ's Curious City, followed by a book signing. Copies of "The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt" will be for sale. Reservations are appreciated at spertus.edu.

Cover art for Ken Krimstein "The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt."

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