26 July 2007

Part 4 "Numbers"

"NUMBERS": Part 4

But first...Rockin' Girl Blogger:

Thanks to Linda, who nominated me for a Rockin’ Girl Blogger award.
What a lovely thing to do Linda, thanks I am most humbled by it.

All I know about this award is from someone else's site which saidthe following,

"A lady by the name of Roberta decided we rockin' girl bloggers needed a community so she developed the banner and tagged 5 other ladies who tagged 5 other ladies and so on and so forth.....and RGB was born."

Hmmm I find these things difficult as there are so many wonderful bloggers out there. So if I have not got you this time I will hit you another time, lol.

Now to those five who I have marked as Rockin’ Girl Blogger’s




Sharon T


I wonder if i can do five Aussies also? Will let you know.

"NUMBERS": Part 4

This will be the second last post in this the series on Numbers, panel one.
It’s quite a job writing all the detail, my apologies for not having posted this part sooner however one must attend to the mundane things in life.

The lady is a cousin of Esther’s however only the surname is remembered.

She and her brother both were killed in Auschwitz.

To the right of the woman you will see some Hebrew text which is resined paper.

I chose this particular piece as it is part of the Prayer for the Dead.

Jews pray three times a day and normally this prayer would be read by a male member of the family for a year after the death and on the annual date that marks the death of the person in question.

Since no-one knows the date of most of the Holocaust victims’ deaths, once a year, on Yom Kippur, our Day of Atonement, the Holiest day of the year, this prayer called “Kaddish”, is read aloud in Synagogues throughout the world to commemorate the deaths of the Holocaust victims.

Hence I thought it fitting to place the text beside this lady and her brother.

I can't seem to find the photo of the brother but it's done in the same way as the sister and you will see part of it in an image to follow.

Additionally, I symbolically added some aged fabric behind the text which is very similar to the uniforms worn in the concentration camps.

Remember how I was telling you how I wanted certain pieces to look as though they had been ripped off the wall in a hurry. This is another example of that – hence the aged and ripped wallpaper with the hanging devise still attached.

The frame is backed with layers of burnt paper as a lot of the homes were burnt down in the Warsaw Ghetto where these cousins resided.

On the frames are some of those rusted elements I spoke of in the last post and I decided not to add all four as would be the case if purchased new. I figured it would be a more realistic look some parts were missing.

The whole piece is sitting on a piece of wood which has many layers of paint and an antiquing medium.

Below but to the right of this piece you will see a glass bottle. In the bottle you will find FRAGMENTS.

If Survivors had anything after all they went through, they had fragments.

Fragments not only in the physical sense.


Fragments of a life they once knew.

Many survivors lost all their family, husbands lost wives and children and visa versa.
Can you imagine being married and with children, losing them all and having to start all over again. I have a number of friends whose parents did just that.
The mind boggles as to the emotional toll it would take, and does take, not only on the parents but the children born into this new generation.

Back to the bottle… in it there is the following…
Mica – to represent Kristallnacht – The night of the broken glass.

Fragments of both German and Hebrew text to represent Kristallnacht.

Bits of the fabric of which I just spoke – to represent the slaughter of 6 million Jews and Esther’s Auschwitz experience.

You will notice 2 pieces of Hebrew text that I placed ever so carefully in the bottle.
The biggest one, in the middle has 2 words… ‘Chochmat Adam” – which translates to “The wisdom of man”.

I inserted that piece, sort of 'tongue in cheek'. This was the last element attached and after going through all the emotions associated with the piece, I looked and thought…

What wisdom was there is all of this?

My answer was NONE.

The second text has the word for book within it so that simply related to the burning of the books on Kristallnacht.

The bottle has some aged fabric within the neck of the bottle to stop the fragments falling out.

I did this as it reminded me of a Molotov cocktail – a crude form of artillery that was used when Sam was in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

The bottle is placed on top of a piece of aged and burned hessian, a fabric used widely at that time. Burnt for reasons explained above.

The annealed, wire, was used to symbolise the wire and or barbed wire on the gates of the ghetto and concentration camps.

The Partisan Song:

Partisans were groups of people participating in the Jewish resistance movement during WW2.

The Partisans’, of which Sam was one, work included all manner of actions, from the simplest to the most drastic. Their courage and heroism filtered past the ghetto gates, called out to the dwellers to flee the ghetto and join their brigade. They secretly instructed ghetto dwellers in diversionist acts and generally generated a feeling of hope and determination.

Songs were one of their weapons.

Of all the songs of all the Ghettos, the one which spread like wildfire, almost from the moment that it left the poet's pen, was this marching song by Hirsh Glik (image below).

It’s called ``Zog nit keynmol az du geyst dem letstn vet'' ("Never Say that You Are Tredding the Final Path'').
Composed in Vilna, it is most often related to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
Set to a tune by the Soviet composers, the brothers Pokras, it became the official hymn of all the Eastern European partisan brigades and was subsequently translated into Hebrew, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Rumanian, Dutch, and English.

With almost magical speed it was caught up by all the concentration camps and by the time the war was over, it was being sung by Yiddish-speaking Jews the world over and by a score of other peoples as well.

These street songs, a sub genre of ghetto music, emphasized four dominant themes: hunger, corrupt administration, hope for freedom, and a call for revolt.
A majority of Ghetto street songs were sung to pre-existing melodies, a technique known as contra fact. Contra fact became necessary because composers couldn't generate new music fast enough for all of the lyrics being written.

At most Holocaust commemorations today, we all sing this song at the end.
Here is the translation…

Never say…

Never say there is only death for you.

Leaden skies may be concealing days of blue -

Because the hour we have hungered for is near;

beneath our tread the earth shall tremble:

We are here!

From land of palm-tree to the far-off land of snow, we shall be coming with our torment and our woe.
And everywhere our blood has sunk into the earth, shall our bravery, our vigor blossom forth!
We’ll have the morning sun to set our day aglow, and all our yesterdays shall vanish with the foe, and if the time is long before the sun appears, then let this song go like a signal through the years.

This song was written with our blood and not with lead;
it’s not a song that birds sing overhead,
it was a people, among toppling barricades,
that sang this song of ours with pistols and grenades.

So never say that there is only death for you.

Leaden skies may be concealing days of blue -

Because the hour we have hungered for is near;

Beneath our tread the earth shall tremble:

We are here!

A fact you may not know…

At each of the five extermination camps, the Nazis created orchestras of prisoner-musicians, forcing them to play while their fellow prisoners marched to the gas chambers.

The suicide rate among musicians was higher than that of most other camp workers except the death details. Many musicians had been forced to watch helplessly as their friends and families were destroyed. Auschwitz had six orchestras, one of which contained 100-120 musicians.

Fania Fenelon, describes her experience as a member of a women's orchestra in Auschwitz from January 1944 to liberation in her book 'Playing for Time'. Fenelon states that even though she had clean clothes and daily showers, she had to play "gay, light music and marching music for hours on end while our eyes witnessed the marching of thousands of people to the gas chambers and ovens."

Since Sam was a Partisan I wanted to honour his bravery by putting in the text of the song.

The locks:

Remember the sneak peak I gave you here…

Well this is what they look like now…


And Esther.

There are a number of subtle differences between the two locks.

Sam’s lock has a very old and worn out Russian coin on top. Pictured on the coin is Vladimir Illych Ulyanov.

Why did I choose Vladimir Illych Ulyanov?

Well quite apart from Sam’s Russian links, Vladimir Illych Ulyanov was the real name for Lenin. He changed his name to Lenin while on the run from the Russian secret police to avoid arrest.

If you will recall, Sam changed his name from Sam to Stanislav Ribistiki in order to enter the Russian army, whilst on the run from the Nazi’s.
I thought it was appropriate.
Also Lenin's beliefs were developed from those of Karl Marx, who is considered the father of communism.

Bet you are wondering how does this girl get all of this stuff – sometimes I wonder myself!

The script layer on the photo is Russian.

On Esther’s piece are the numbers 52875.

Those are the numbers tattooed on her arm when she arrived at Auschwitz.

By the way the Nazi’s did not tattoo the numbers on the prisoners – they ordered other Jews to tattoo the numbers on them. Later on in her life, Esther met up with the man that tattooed her number which is very very large and crude as far as these numbers go. The man was so nervous having to do this to Esther, remember she was only 12, that he fumbled it.

The Myrtle Leaf:

You may have noticed a gold leaf that I placed above Esther's head.

You may recall that the name Esther, which in Hebrew is Hadassah - translated it means, a myrtle leaf.

The myrtle leaf is a small oval in shape and in Judaic terms it represents the eye.


I not only placed it above this photo of Esther to represent her name but also for the fact that the myrtle represents the eye. As you read on just below here you will understand why I placed it above this photo in particular - and not the very first one of Esther.

The Gold Rings:

Both Esther and Sam’s piece have a gold ring around their eyes.


Because they are witnesses.

Witnesses to what happened.

Witnesses to the numbers slaughtered.

Both their eyes are amazing.

So as you will see, in the next and final post of this panel, I placed the photos on opposing sides near the end of the piece.

I put them near the end (there is always a reason for my placement of things) as they were witnesses to all the images that went before this.

When you see the final pinal all together you will see that these lock images are facing each other - looking toward one another.

You will notice a rusted chain that I attached between Sam and Esther’s locks.

Why the chain and why the lock?

I will now bring it all together for you –

The locks
The chain
The eyes
The gold ring

They met after the war. Esther was being nursed back to health by her host family and they suggested that she go and hear a man speaking about going to Israel. She did not really want to go as she was very reserved after having gone through everything she had, but they coaxed her along to hear a very charismatic leader speaking.
She entered the room and listened to the man speaking, their eye’s met.

He then came and spoke to her.

They then went out and three months later, Sam and Esther were married.

It was in their eyes.

Their eyes spoke to each other.

The chain…

attached to the lock represents both their eyes being locked into each other.

As each chain has links -
So too Sam and Esther have links to the same past.

Even though Sam has passed on, Esther is obviously still linked to Sam.
But on a more spiritual level she is still to this day so besotted with him. You only have to see her chest push out with pride when she speaks him and all his achievements. They adore/d each other.

And the gold rings around the eyes symbolise their union in marriage.

By the way the ring in Judaism has to be completely round with no markings or engravings on it. There-by representing eternity.

Sam and Esther's love and respect for one another is eternal.

On that note, I bid you a good morning - as I have written this, the time has gone past midnight. Forgive me for not uploading the last images of this panel but I am sure you have had enough reading for one post plus I am bit drained from writing.

The next installment you will see not only the final elements but the entire piece in one photo.
Thanks so much for reading all of this and really truly I so appreciate all your comments - they are so uplifting and makes all the hours of writing this, very much worthwhile.

To be continued...


Sharon said...

So far, maybe, just off the top of my head, if I have a favorite segment of "Numbers" it is the assemblage of the locks, chain, eyes, and gold rings. You bring these elements together and we "witness" Sam and Esther's intense, eternal love through their eyes and yours.
And Thank you, I just love that you award me with a Rockin'Girl Blogger badge.

Leslie said...

Judy, congratulations on your Rockin'Girl Blogger badge. You most definitely 'rock.' Such excellent work. You bring Sam and Esther to life! And thank you for documenting the whys of what you do. It makes this stunning work all that much more powerful.

Judy Wise said...

This has to be a book. I could read your words and admire your work endlessly.

Thank you for thinking of me.

craftyhala said...

Wow, as I read I forgot where i was. It was like I was reading a story...well it is a story...then you popped into the blog post with your closing statement.
Oh my...I so very much enjoy you.

tejae said...

Beautiful work. I agree with the other bloggers...you definately have a way with words. Your sense of accuracy, placement and passion comes through each of your art pieces. When you were describing the "eyes" and Sam and Esther's connection it brought tears to my eyes. I agree with Judy...please make a book. :) I understand out of confidentiality you may not be at liberty to, but it would be such a beautiful book.

Jen Crossley said...

STUNNING You never cease to amaze me.
Simple stunning!!!

Debby Harriettha said...

How can it get any better? I ask myself this question every time I visit. You are amazing. Incredible works of art Judy!

Lissy said...

More totally amazing work Judy...I cannot at all imagine loosing my family and starting again...too hard even to think of loosing them...

jo and jacky said...

Breathtakingly beautiful! Thankyou Judy.
Eagerly awaiting the next installment, but this must be so draining for you emotionally?!
Much love,

Kristen Robinson said...

Judy my fried you are just excpetional there is no other way to say it! Your artwork is a true gift to the world a treaure for all of us to learn from. Your artwork and words will forever preserve such important pieces of history.

azirca said...

Firstly Judy, congrats on the 'rockin' girl blogger' award, something that you well and truly deserve.

I really love the photo of Esther's cousin, still with attached hanger and wallpaper that has been hastily ripped from the wall. I also love the locks, the chain, the rings and the eyes. Oh my Judy, you bought tears to my eyes reading about the significance behind the inclusion of these elements.

You're amazing.

Tricia Scott said...

my heart wants to break at the pain esther and sam endured, the unbelievable cruelty and then i think about the love, pure eternal LOVE and i am lifted up again. judy, i always leave your blog feeling as if i have left the house of a dear friend, a teacher who has shared so much of herself and i am grateful.

****and thank you so much for thinking of me and awarding me the rockin' girl badge! i will wear it proudly. :)

hope you have a rockin' but restful day!

Julie H said...

Again, I am your student. The locks are outstanding - the eyes to the soul so beautifully represented/recreated.

Natalie B said...

WOW!!! So much detail and so much love has gone into these pieces. .

Congrats on your Rockin Blogger Aware, way cool!

nat B

ps thanks for leaving lovely messages on my blog

Ro Bruhn said...

I love the treatment you've given the locks Judy, the writing and the photo look fabulous. I like the touch of the bottle with the fragments too, everything ties in so well and has such meaning. You should be very proud of what you do. Not many people could acheive your results so successfully.
Congratulations on your award.

Lelainia N. Lloyd said...

I think this really needs to be a book. It's so interesting to hear the thought process you are going through for each of the elements you are choosing and their placement. It's unravelling the mystery of it.

I also hope when you are done this can hang somewhere where others can see it. It's an amazing body of work. I am so enjoying reading because I am learning new things as I go.

lklight said...

Judy, thank you so much for all of the time & energy that you put into your blog.
Your work is absolutely breathtaking.
In all that I do, I always save the best for last & your blog is always the last one that I read, it's definitely blog dessert!

paris parfait said...

I am just knocked out by your work here. It is fantastic, so powerful and poignant! Thank you for sharing it here. (And congrats on your award!)

R2artstudio said...

Congratulations on the Rockin Blog!! Yours is at the top of the my list. I also was wondering how you come up with all the interesting information you share with us. Just amazing how you make every single piece of paper, fabric, metal, and letters have such signicant meaning. Thank you so much for sharing all the steps in your creative process. And thank you for mentioning me for RGB award. Means so much!

donnaj said...

beautiful and so well thought out~

Corey Moortgat said...

Judy, thanks for your kind words about my latest journalling venture- you read the piece perfectly- bearing the weight on my shoulders...

I love how meaningful your artwork is- how you have reason behind each piece- that's the way I try to work as well!

kelly snelling said...

blessings to you for your gifts for through them your people are remembered. and we will all remember them now as well. and in this they live on.

amy said...

This just takes my breath away. And does need to be a book. As if you have time to think of that right now but...Your work is truly amazing.

Nicole said...

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh just fabulous is all I can say. Woooow. ;-)

Sue Berry said...

Once again Judy, I am stunned by your art - you truly do create from the heart! Can't wait to see the final piece. Hugs, Sue x

Debbi Baker said...

Judy - I haven't been commenting as I read your Numbers posts because everything I type sounds so superficial compared to the intensity of my feelings and my complete wonder and admiration at both the beauty of your work and the emotion, love and intensity you are conveying in both the piece of art and your posts about it. You really are very special.

poppyq said...

This beautiful work. You deserve great things!! Your friend and his family will treasure this forever.

Jo Capper-Sandon said...

I am so pleased I traced you from my blog. This work is amazing. I'm going link you and to put a time aside to be able to start from the beginning of the numbers and read it through properly. Love all the colours and texture you use.

Karen Cole said...

Each detailed photo is a work of art on it's own. If I were you, I'd contact the Holocaust Museum in Washington and email them your work. I see a big exhibit in your future.

Nancy Gene Armstrong said...

I don't think there are words to express the beauty you have made that has come from such a tragic story. Your words have reached so many . I will hate for you to finish.I can only hope the people you have reached will not forget.

Emmcee .... Marie C said...

I know we will never forget the history/horror of the holocaust, but your attention to detail and descriptions in these personal stories makes your work powerfully emotive....

MargaretR said...

I just found you through Ro's blog. What a powerfully shared story, I wish I could see this work for myself.

lklight said...

Yes, but I'll bet you get a heck of a lot more than an art class out of the deal plus you don't have to pay him!!!