Visualizing Holocaust Remembrance
My grandmother and her family escaped Nazi Germany, but much of her extended family perished in the Holocaust. I started this project to honor her story.
For my first piece, I created a sculptural text portrait of my grandmother, Lilly Cohen, made up of acrylic layers engraved with names of her ancestors, literally and figuratively creating her identity from her family tree. Like many survivors, my grandmother became interested in learning more about her family history: where her family members came from, what happened to them during the Holocaust, and where their children and grandchildren live today. Through her extensive genealogy project, we are now connected to family around the world.
With this series, I have expanded this project to honor the stories of other survivors, crafting each portrait out of text from their respective experiences with the Holocaust. The portraits included here, in addition to those in-progress in my studio, are for Eva Kessner, Luciano Friedenbach, Seymour Spiegel, and Jane Schein. I have also made another piece of my grandmother that incorporates more of her family’s story along with their names.
The text from each piece comes from written stories and oral testimonies from each survivor. In this way, I hope to memorialize these survivors’ narratives in personal, abstracted forms that visualize the overwhelming presence and incomprehensibility of trauma, as well as messages of resilience and legacy.