A while back, I had come across a big discovery in my research (which I wrote about in an earlier blog Never Give Up and Good Things Will Come). Finding Yad Vashem documents for my family who died in the holocaust was very powerful. This time, my husband, who normally, stays on the sidelines of my work, was heavily impacted as well. One the one hand, I had been digging up, amazing vintage photos of his family. On the other hand, I had just uncovered important documents of relatives we knew little about. He couldn't sleep, and in the morning he shared a remarkable idea with me.
His plan was to make an art installation inspired by our ancestors. The idea was in it's infancy, but he knew he need my images. Somehow he wanted to represent how our forefathers are the foundation of our lives. He experimented with all kinds of materials and after much trial and error he produced an amazing installation which he titled: Our Ancestors.
Images, Rocks, Sand and Water
The art work consist of eighteen large rocks, set in a reflective pool. Most are covered with the faces of our ancestors going back five generations. The bare stones represent those ancestors we lost in the holocaust. This installation, is one of the most power pieces my husband has ever created. The sheer size of these bolders, reinforces the importance of our ancestors. While as a genealogist, I often think of my ancestors, as branches of a tree, this installation, flips the tree around, placing the ancestors at the root holding the tree together. The number eighteen, symbolizes Chai, meaning life in Hebrew, as these are the people who gave us life. My husband explained that while he dedicated this work to our grandparents who represent the past, our children—who are our future— were his inspiration.
Visitors, stood in silence and awe for a very long time, as they observed the rocks. Some related the rocks to tombstones, other recalled the small stones placed on Jewish graves, yet others saw the installation as an altar. Family members and strangers alike, were brought to tears by this powerful exhibit. Some were struck by the resemblance of our grandparents to my husband and I. Others, were mesmerized by seeing their own reflections in the water blending together with the reflections of our forefathers. This moving reflection, augments the mystical or spiritual aspect of the work and symbolizes the eternal presence of an aura or soul. Seeing one's refection in the work, merges the viewer who is in the present, with the ancestors of the past and the future that is built on these strong foundations.
|Our Ancestors at Studio5 as part of the Permanence and Disappearance exhibit 2010.|
I'll let the work, speak mostly for itself. I thank my husband for this remarkable collaboration, where he expressed the importance of the work I'm doing in his unique and beautiful way. I hope, this exhibit will one day find a permanent home in a museum or a park.