THE LAST BUTTERFLY is a life size bronze sculpture commemorating the children of the Holocaust. The sculpture draws on Marlyn Cheshes' response to the chilling testimonies from the Terezin ghetto. Inspired by 14 year-old detainee Pavel Friedmann's poem "The Butterfly." The bronze depicts a child with a butterfly poised on her finger. Marlyn's work creates an artistic tension between the doomed girl and the unfettered butterfly that is simultaneously one of resignation and hope...captivity and freedom...death and rebirth. The 1st edition is now the property of the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels. The artist wishes this particularly poignant work to stand in a commemorative garden or museum in the United States, so that future generations may always remember the lost promise of the youngest Holocaust generation.
(Acquisition price: $17,800)
The photographs were taken in a studio with a medium format Leonardo zone plate camera using a polaroid back and Polapan 55PN film. I used two high powered strobes to light the nude dancer. With no viewfinder, deciding where to place the dancer was a game of chance, a leap in the dark. Every shot, opening and covering the pinhole, was a revelation. I could get instantaneous results and share them with my model -- offering her the chance to share in the spirit of the shoot.
From the ordinary citizen to two of the most important figures in the post-9/11 events, they came to “Ground Zero” to pay tribute to those who lost their lives. This series of photos depicts the personal memorials left behind. It documents US Central Command General Tommy Franks’ visit to the site accompanied by former New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani, his time with some of the heroes of that tragic day. It shows that life in America goes on as the two are guests at a New York Yankees baseball game.
Let me begin with the events that inspired me to create this body of work. I’ve always been fascinated by the struggles of people deprived of their human rights. When I moved to
Belgium in 1997 I found myself personally and artistically moved by the immediacy of the Holocaust during a period of renewed interest in it. I visited a number of historic sites, including the Dossin Barracks in Mechelin where Belgian Jews were interned before being transported to the death camps.
I attended a seminar on Art and the Holocaust in Belgium. A painter who’d survived the holocaust said she’d been unable to express her feelings about the experience for some fifty years. A Gypsy survivor – angry as he spoke -- recounted how he pleaded, “let my son die in my arms.” I felt tears well up as I sketched his face. That drawing, capturing the horror etched in his pores, can be seen on the matting below the twenty fifth photo (the original drawing is in the Traveling Exhibits of the Holocaust Museum in Saint Petersburg, Florida) in my concentration camp series, “Crematorium, Auschwitz I.”
This series of twenty-nine black and white silver gelatin prints, and one color, includes on the mats some experimental montages, drawings, handwritten quotes and original writing. The montages can be seen in number six, “Courtyard, Terezin” and in number twenty-four “Electric Fence.” On the first photo in the series, “Prayer Shawl, Old Synagogue, Krakow,” I appended these words that came to me as I walked through the camps, looking from the inside outwards one feels the emotion that existed time past. These are reflections without a voice.
Trained as a sculptor and painter, I approach the camera with a sculptor’s eye. When shooting I am drawn to shadow, contour, and offbeat perspective. I may shoot down from a ladder or up from the floor. I get beneath the surface, beyond the whole. In one notable image from my death camp series, number thirteen, Chimneys, Birkenau,” I found a peephole perspective, looking out from the barracks. After I snapped the photo I wrote in my journal the quote mentioned above (and the name of this series). Primo Levi, a writer, survived the Holocaust and documented his experiences in the book “Survival in Auschwitz.” I paired his words with some of my photos, including number eleven, “Wooden Barracks, Birkenau, Auschwitz II.” The caption reads:
Consider if this is a man Who works in the mud Who fights for a scrap of bread Who dies because of a yes or a no, Consider if this is a woman
Without hair and without name Her eyes empty and her womb cold Like a frog in winter…
The images in “Reflections Without a Voice” are arranged to tell a story. They begin in the old Ghetto of Kazimerz, proceed through the camps to the ashes, photo number twenty-nine, of those who died in the ovens, and conclude with a sign of hope for the future – an image of a young girl running across a field at Terezin. There is a story behind that last photo. While I was viewing the Jewish burial grounds, in the distance I noticed a little girl running. The message was clear – there was hope for the future. I ran after her and snapped the picture. I had only one chance to capture her on film. This is number thirty and last photo included, “New Life, field in Terezin.”
There have been other horrific genocides in the years since World War II ended – from Rwanda to Darfur. My photographs express that old sadly ignored saying, “never again.”
This exhibit is part of the Holocaust Museum of Florida’s traveling exhibits. Arrangements can be made for its loan.
Twas brillig, and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: All mimsy were the borogove And the mome raths outgrabe. (Alice read this poem in the Looking-glass book)
It is as if I were a child again. Creating whimsical characters with found objects; that is just plain fun. A child gets excited at each new discovery, so do I