Invited to Life is a series of portraits and short stories created in four years traveling across the United States to document the inspirational but complex lives of more than 150 American Holocaust survivors. Highlighting the diversity of these subjects and their unique experiences, the work examines the many ways large and small the world has been remapped by the hopeful roads survivors have made in overcoming their trauma to create a new and better future in their pivot to American life.
Released in January 2023 in book form as Invited to Life: After the Holocaust (with contributed essays by Dr. Mayim Bialik, Neil Gaiman, and Sabrina Orah Mark,) and featured in an expansive solo exhibition at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in its first-ever public art installation from 2018-2021, the Smithsonian affiliate Center for Jewish History in 2022, and the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center and the Kansas City Public Library in 2023.
The project is the bronze medal winner for portraiture at the 2021 Prix de la Photographie Paris and a finalist at the Tokyo International Photo Awards.
With thanks to the Holocaust Museum and Tolerance Center, the Museum of Tolerance/Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Witness Project, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the Goldie & David Blanksteen Foundation, GLAAD, the Sherwin-Miller Museum of Jewish Art, and the Florida Holocaust Museum for their assistance as we worked with Holocaust survivors across the country.
Previously featured in the New York Times, The Forward, White Rose, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Hey Alma, the Jewish Book Council, Times of Israel, the Jewish Journal, NY1 News, the Straits Times of Singapore, the World Jewish Congress, and Washington Post.
Praise for the book Invited to Life:
"It's a little unorthodox to describe any journalist's work as loving—and yet, that's the word I keep returning to here, reading through the chronicle of stories that make up Invited to Life. This is a work of loving attention, focused on a set of people who are wonderfully, idiosyncratically different, but whose endurance and gratitude hold humbling lessons for those of us lucky enough to witness them. Van Sise is a patient storyteller: the voices of his subjects, the rhythms and tones of their memories, all ring out clearly through his writing. To read this book is to sit at his side in their living rooms and kitchens, listening to music, looking at their photos, hearing their silences and laughter, being transfixed by their stories. Without turning away from the more difficult aspects of this history—and there are, needless to say, plenty—Van Sise also lets us experience his subjects' joys, humor, and the determination with which they live. This book is a gift to us and to history." — Corinne Segal, LitHub
"B.A. Van Sise's photographs aren't typical- and that's the point...[These portraits] exude strength, serenity, and pure joy. Van Sise shows the myriad ways in which these survivors have demonstrated resilience, remembrance, creativity and connection." — Cathryn J. Prince, The Forward
"Thoughtful, kind and insightful, [Invited to Life] is, at different points, hilarious, breathtaking, and gut-wrenching. It's always worth your attention." — Sara Beth Berman, Hey Alma
“[Along with] handsome and sensitive portraits...Van Sise identifies lessons for our unsettled time. Invited to Life is a compelling and memorable portrait that testifies to the strength and endurance of the human spirit.” — Maron L. Waxman, Jewish Book Council
“Poignant and exquisite.” — Karen Lehrman Bloch, Jewish Journal
"A truly powerful collection of images, stories, allegories and lives...Van Sise is writing with light, as if drawn by Picasso himself.
It is extremely difficult to make this look simple. The light transforms from a simple instrument and becomes representative of amusement and laughter, it is hope in the darkness, it is sunlight from an invisible window that warms and comforts.
This is the stuff that moves mountains, the small action that ripples across millennia." —Cary Benbow, F-Stop Magazine
"Hefty, beautifully produced...he has done his job beautifully. He has been true to his intention: to show existence ongoing, life being lived." —Michael R. Caplan, White Rose Magazine
"Arresting photos... like a walk through a gallery.
It's too pat to say they are stories of hope. They are, but they are of hope despite all evidence against it. And as people talk about quarter-life crises and midlife crises and the difficulties of starting over, reading this should put into perspective what starting over can be, in a new world." —The New York Daily News
"Van Sise's exposition of Holocaust survivors as heroes and heroines who defied devious odds rather than helpless victims places this book in the must-read category of the most real and outstanding Holocaust books ever written." —BestSellersWorld