07 March 2008

“Esh” – The 4 books explained.

The books that I did within the housing were done as a dedication, not only to my family members who perished in the Holocaust but to all families, in particular to the 1 ½ MILLION children, who died.

The books are in no particular order.

Pictured on the front are two small children.
The photo was taken whilst they were living in the Warsaw Ghetto.

I decided to use a transparency which was placed over the prayer which is said a number of times during the day.

The words are...
"...Accept willingly and with mercy our prayers."

The strange and accidental thing about the placement of the transparency over the prayer was that the Hebrew letter “shin” landed exactly on top of the Magen David, the Star of David.

Why is that significant?

Well, many of you would have noticed that on the door posts of Jewish homes there is a thing called a mezuzah, a parchment with a prayer inside. That prayer recognizes G-d as our Holy one. Hence, you will see that letter on the outside housing of these mezuzahs.

It was quite freaky that it should land on the Star of David.

The letter Shin also stands for the word Shaddai, a name for G-d.
Because of this, a Cohen (priest) forms the letter Shin with his hands as he recites the Priestly Blessing. In the mid 1960s, actor Leonard Nimoy used a single-handed version of this gesture to create the Vulcan Hand Salute for his character, Mr. Spock, on Star Trek.

The striped fabric, paper and ribbon you see used in this book and throughout the other books represents the uniforms worn in the concentration camps.

The hand made marbled paper was used to represent the fires of the burning crematoria, these two children did not survive, and they perished in one of those camps.

I used the book cover as it became apparent when I was searching for something to use that the very fragile letters broken off from the very aged book – made, what looked like the word Berlin.

Berlin, Germany was where my father was from.
Page 2 and 3.

Photos of my father’s younger sister and brother, Bertha and Nissan, later killed in either Auschwitz or Therezienstadt. Most people who were in the Warsaw ghetto were transported to Therezienstadt, however there is the belief that they went to Auschwitz.

The 1 ½ torn from an antique ledger alludes to the numbers of children killed hence it is placed near the children here.

After Artfest my cousin in meeting me in New York to hand deliver me family letters that my grandmother wrote to one of her sisters who is still alive, living in Cleveland. Those letters may give me more insight into where they were transported to. I normally go to Cleveland to see her but cannot this trip so the documents and photos and memorabilia are coming to me to scan and use in a later piece.

The stamped script on the binding of these pages is a German stamp.

The 3 black crosses adhering the photo of Nissan on page 3 represents the 3 family members killed as the larger black and white cross or x represents all those slaughtered.

Why the white?

Because white represents purity. These children were pure and innocent when killed.

Page 4
Pictured here, is Bertha on the right with a cousin Judith who survived.

I used olive green as Bertha went by the name Blumele which in Yiddish means Blossom. So the allusion to fauna and the reason you see the vertigres flowers near her.

Quite by accent and you know how I like to layer – if you look in the top left corner I had randomly ripped paper from the ledger.

The letters ripped were "WIL", the first part of our surname.

Then if you look down the bottom at the layered papers is "EN", the middle part of our surname. Another mystery and certainly not done on purpose.

Page 5
I printed the names of the concentration camps on fabric. No comment necessary here.

Page 6

The word WHY is hammered into the copper with a fortune tellers hand.
Why can be interpreted as the following.

Why, fortunately did my father survive?


Why did this happen?

The photo on the other side of the glass slide says the word Survivor and there is an image of my father, who escaped at age 13 and made it (7 months later) mainly on foot to the then Palestine.
I cannot show you this image at this stage as it is being used for another publication - my apologies.

The text torn from a random book shown here, reads as follows,

“Fragments. He was hungry”.


“And he pursued his walk”.

The fragments referred to the fragments of his life – I cannot go deeply into the section for this image is explained in a piece that will be published later this year.

The hunger and walk, well I just explained that.

Page 6

The page is torn from a very vintage and quite strange Jewish prayer book I found at the markets on the other side of Sydney.
Sitting atop is a transparency of children walking to the trains that took them to the camps.

Page 7

Another photo of Bertha and Nissan placed under YELLOW stained glass.

The yellow was chosen specifically because the mandatory stars that Jews had to wear were yellow.

There is a favoured saying in German that grandparents often used as a term of endearment to their grandchildren. The term “Mein Goldenness Kind”, My Golden Child. I was often called that as a child by my grandfather. It came to mind when I was working on this page. So I placed the image atop gold and green paper. Again the green an allusion to bertha’s name and the fact that they were in their garden when the photo was taken.

Thanks for all the heartfelt comments – I am strapped for time to answer everyone as I am in panic mode to prepare some pieces for Artfest. Please understand that I very much am humbled by your comments and the emotion surrounding them.

It makes me so happy.

This evening I had the good fortune of spending a few hours with Professor Yehuda Bauer, the worlds leading educationalist and authority on the Holocaust. After his public lecture I was honoured to take him out for dinner to discuss some matters.

I am currently in research mode for an art piece that I hope to do soon.

I need you to know that no piece I do is without extensive research. I would rather not engage myself in a piece if I do not have the correct facts.

The piece, about which I would rather not reveal yet, is related to the Holocaust but not about Jewish people.
He has linked me to a museum where whilst I am in Los Angeles prior to Artfest, I will spend some significant time reading oral testimonies.

How fortunate I feel to have spent some 3 hours picking the Professors wonderfully educated mind.

And all in the name of ART!



Kristen Robinson said...

Another incedible and amazing journey through time. One that churns the heart and soul but at the same time secures the memories of so many innoccents. Your images and elements as always come together in a provoking and incredible way. Wonderful news about the museum!!!

Lynn said...

I am too overwhelmed with emotions right now to comment Judy. Thank you for making this ART, thank you for telling the world what happened, keeping the memory alive.
Todarabah! You are a gem and much appreciated.
Be well.
Thank you again and again.
Every bit of what you do here is exquisite...oh so meaningful and moving. My heart aches. And that is important. The best compliment to know you have deeply touched those who see your works.

Deryn Mentock said...

You and Michael have created something really special and meaningful here. But, you already know that! Beautiful work Judy...

Ruth Rae said...

such stunning pages!
life and art are both so full of layers to be discovered!

Judy Wise said...

It must be profoundly satisfying to not only be working with beautiful materials but to have found a purpose in life that makes the work a fiery passion. Keep flying; it's marvelous.

Ro Bruhn said...

You tell it so well Judy, it brings the story home once children are involved.
You amaze me with so much meaning in your pieces, you really are a true artist.

~Izabella said...

every piece you create is museum quality, always so spiritual & intense... beautiful treasures!!

wanted to see if you wanted to come play?! come see on my blog, I know your busy ;)

xo~ Bella

Jen Crossley said...

OH Judy what can I say,I had tears in my eyes and was moved so much,it gave me chills,it really tugged at my heart strings.
You and Michael have created something truely wonderful.Im speechless (Iknow a first)
Your amazing

Karen Cole said...

Judy Wilkenfeld is an artist, there is no doubt.

Redness said...

Heartbreaking yet astonishingly empowered ... choosing the right words to describe your work is an emotional and haunting challenge! You honour and educate every day, with every task, Thank You Judy.

Anonymous said...

Judy I really don't like sitting at the computor, but you draw me in every time. You are a National treasure to the Jewish cause, the world needs reminding of the ugly history and the need to prevent it ever happening again.
Have a wonderful time away.
ciao bella

Kathleen Fisher said...

Thank you for such a clear and evocative explanation of your work. Naturally, it is touching, but also so inspiring for other artists.

Janine said...

What more can I say that hasn't already been said. The fact that you do your research and you are able to have your artwork tell a story is really moving. xo

HeArt Collective said...

thanks for sharing in depth this beautiful work!

Sam Marshall said...

Your work is incredible and the stories behind them are too.

azirca said...

stunning and moving beyond words.

Sue said...

stunning work Judy. Once again I am moved beyond words.

Ottilias Veranda said...

Absolutely amazing art work! And important! Soon there will be no survivers left who can tell us their eyewitness stories. There are unfotunately youngsters (brainwashed with nazi sympathies I guess) who claim it never happened!
So keep up Your brilliant work!

Anonymous said...

When we are on the right path there are many signs along the way to reassure us.The work has taken on a life of it's on once again.I do believe you are a tool being guided. Fantastic work as always.
Nancy A.

Tally O said...

Todah Judy, for bringing this meaningful piece to the world for us to appreciate. My grandparents are also survivors and are still alive in Israel. Your work is very important!
Hey! You're gonna be in LA? Well, I would love to offer to take you out to dinner when you're out here! Please email me privately, of course. tally@papierstudio.com

Christie said...

These books and these stories are amazing and touching. You've have enlightened me about a subject I should have known more about. Thanks, c

Sarah said...

Judy this is just beyond words, beyond thinking that this actually happened especially in our life time, and how you have managed to capture it and all the emotions is beyond me. Your one fabulous artist, historian and a wonderful inspiration.. I also tagged you on my blog, I hope you dont mind..

katie said...

wow, wow, wow..... i'm speechless...

Megan P said...

How wonderful to create a piece of such significance to so many. how beautifully you have honored the memories of the past.

Lisa Cook said...

Another incredible journey. Thank you so much for sharing your latest project that you and Michael created together. I feel I have learned so much from your explanations especially for those of us who are not Jewish. I appreciate that to the depths of my soul. The symbolic representations you both came up with, both intentionally and serendipitously are amazing. I only wish I could see this in person to hold a tiny bit of that history and caring in my hands.
Thank you. Thank you.

artfulzebra said...

Incredible work, Judy, I'm once again lost for words! Your work is so moving, so touching, so inspiring. Thank you again for sharing this.

blaacraft said...

This project is amazing, compelling, exquisitely beautiful and so moving.
Thankyou Judy for sharing your passion and story, so full of symbols & meaning on so many levels. I will be returning.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Judy,
(lisa in Spain here)
Once again I am in awe...
Like someone else has also commented, there is something in this work you do, something so powerful, an energy that you channel when you are creating--I can't quite describe it but I also feel/echo what someone else commented here: "I am moved to tears, I am chilled"...there is such magic here.
And although it's "your" work, I feel it holds an energy of something greater, beyond each individual. And it's being a witness of that that I find so incredibly powerful.
What a gift you have, Judy.
Lacheim!, truly.