University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies
chgs@umn.edu
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CHGS

Voice to Vision III

Road to Burundi

44” x 52” Acrylic on canvas, collage, fluorescent Plexiglas

David Feinberg, with drawing contributions from Rwandan survivors Alice Tuza and Floriane Robbins-Brown and artists Caroline Kent, Kelly Frush and Solomon Atta.

BurundiThe team of artists asked Floriane and Alice questions about their experiences during the 1994 genocide. Using pencils and paper, the sisters sketched their memories in response. Kelly asked Alice to draw the first graphic image she saw when she first realized something was terribly wrong. Alice drew a scene where she and her family members scrambled to flee the rebels. An unexpected twist occurred when she drew dialogue bubbles and added text such as, “Please don’t kill me,” and “Let me pray first before you kill me.” Floriane sketched herself watching the Rwandan president’s plane crash on CNN and remembered being angered when it was interrupted by continuous footage of the infamous OJ Simpson high-speed chase.

Not asking questions, rollers with blue and orange paint were given to the sisters, asking them to start rolling the paint around arbitrarily. When asked if the large blue image Alice had painted with the roller was the sun, she said that she was thinking of the rebels’ clubs. Alice described the rebels commonly using baseball bats with nails sticking out of them as weapons. “You’d be lucky if they shot you,” she said.

Next we asked them to consider what the town looked like before the genocide and to draw upon a childhood memories and whatever objects were around them when they first heard the news about the genocide. We realized that the white space between the orange and the blue was the road to Burundi and we had them paint their houses on either side of the road.

Among Floriane’s collection of childhood photographs we found an image of her along with fellow classmates standing on a dock on a sunny day in Rwanda. We chose to use the reflected image of the group to express the memory of her childhood and sadness.

Before a Long Time Ago

22” x 33.5” 2007 Acrylic on canvas, collage, fluorescent Plexiglas

David Feinberg, with drawing contributions from Romanian survivors Max and Edith Goodman, Rwandan survivors Alice Tuza and Floriane Robbins-Brown, and artists Caroline Kent, Kelly Frush, and Solomon Atta

Long AgoThe start of this piece began as each survivor chose an object or an image from an assortment of plastic toy figurines that they identified with an early childhood experience. Inside the wooden box, amongst slanted angles and reflective mirrors are pictures of each survivor from childhood.

Floriane chose an elephant stating that the skin of the elephant was the most remarkable texture she had ever felt in her life.

A xeroxed image from a photograph of Floriane’s shows two giraffe’s crossing at the neck. This photograph was taken in Kenya, the place that she arranged a helicopter to rescue her family during the Rwanda genocide. This photograph was taken after the genocide took place during a vacation trip. David Feinberg noted that the crossing of the two giraffes seemed to point to the crossing of two cultures between the Holocaust survivors and the Rwandan survivors.

The horse came from Alice’s memory of the white horse. The white horse she said symbolized people being saved.

Max recalled a tapestry his family owned that had an image of the angel Gabriel on it. During the war his family sold the beautiful rug to a local church in exchange for four bags of flour that family fed for many days. That tapestry became a symbol for Max as part of a childhood memory.

Both Edith and Alice chose to place a plastic doll in the work. The doll made a connection between both Edith Goodman and Alice Tuza being ten years old while experiencing the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide.

Love Will Set You Free

44” x 52” Acrylic on canvas, collage, fluorescent Plexiglas

David Feinberg, with drawing contributions from Romanian Survivors Max and Edith Goodman, and artists Kelly Frush and Solomon Atta.

Love Will Set You FreeMax and Edith both lived in Romania with their families when the deportation of Romanian Jews began. Max was 16 years old and Edith was 10 years old. Forty thousand Jews were expected to cross the River Dniester on ferries, which held 12 people at a time. It took three months to transport the 40,000 Jews across the river.

Independent militias instantly killed many Jews who made it across. A Hungarian militia—which Max thinks had a few Jews in it—saved his family from being killed. Edith’s father bribed aPolish militia, convincing them not to kill the family. Those not killed by the militias were marched up a mountain. Many people, young and old, died on this mountain from over-exertion and lack of food. Edith remembers seeing a dead woman being covered with a black cloth, her feet still sticking out of the sheet.

In 2006, Max and Edith each chose a different color representing their hardships during this time in their respective lives. A canvas was laid in the middle of the floor and a team of artists dropped paint onto it. The artists dipped paper towels in the paint and drug them across the canvas. It was tipped on its side to create vertical drips. Photocopies of the photographs were collaged onto the canvas. Max discovered a mountain in the abstraction and each artist contributed a representation of people marching up the mountain. Edith painted the black cloth-covered woman she had witnessed.

The two blue shapes represent Max and Edith today. They are breaking free from the black outlines, which represent their past. After the Holocaust ended, Max and Edith met and realized they had been in the same places at the same times, unknowingly. They later married.

Romania 1941/Rwanda 1994

44” x 52” Acrylic on canvas, collage, fluorescent Plexiglas

David Feinberg, with drawing contributions from Romanian survivors Max and Edith Goodman, Rwandan survivors Alice Tuza and Floriane Robbins-Brown, and artists Caroline Kent, Kelly Frush, and Solomon Atta.

Romania/RwandaThis painting is the collaboration of four survivors: Edith and Max Goodman, Romanian survivors of the Holocaust, and Alice Tuza and Florin Robbins-Brown, Rwandan genocide survivors. Each survivor drew upon a specific memory based on a sound or word they remembered and placed it into the painting.

“Father, I am only ten years old, I want life!” came from a memory by Edith Goodman. Startingwith the word LIFE she juxtaposed the letters, separated and rearranged them, giving new relationship and meaning to the word. The letter “F” takes on the identity as Edith’s father and the letter “I” stands as the child Edith. Representing soldiers, letters “L” and “E” now stand separated.

Floriane drew upon a fond memory by observing the Hebrew letter “alef” that Max drew. It reminded her of the beautiful dancers of Rwanda. The move of their bodies and their strong presence made it appropriate to paint it in thick bold strokes in the upper center of the painting.

Alice Tuza was ten years old during the genocide when she heard the sound of a grenade going off. The sound was spelled out phonetically as Alice recalled the memory. “PPPppppuuuaaaaaaahhhhhh!” Alice painted these letters diagonally through the painting.

Max recalled a time during WWII when he found himself in a house near a site where bombs were being dropped. In haste for safety he thought to hide under the bed. The words “ha ha” express his realization of how silly it was to think his bed could protect him from a bomb.