TCU Daily Skiff Tuesday, April 20, 2004
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Woman shares life-changing experiences through artwork
A Holocaust survivor unveils her stories through various works in an exhibit in the University Art Gallery.

By Lauren Lea
Staff Reporter

Anna Ornstein was a typical Jewish girl growing up in rural Hungary when her world was completely torn apart. She had two older brothers and attended parochial school in Szendro, a small town of 3,500.

Ornstein was 17 years old in March of 1944 when the Nazis invaded Hungary and moved 40 Jewish families to a ghetto and, eventually, deported them to concentration camps.

Ornstein’s stories of the Holocaust and illustrations of those stories by artist Stewart Goldman will be on display beginning Monday in the University Art Gallery. “Tales of Slavery and Deliverance” includes 13 etchings accompanied by their stories and four paintings from Goldman’s Holocaust series.

“I didn’t intend to publish them originally,” she said. “I just told the stories at Passover to my children who enjoyed them.”

Scott Sullivan, dean of the College of Fine Arts, said he had curated the exhibition while he was at Kent State University and that it’s a way of ensuring people never forget the “unspeakable tragedies” during the Holocaust.

“This teaches us all kinds of lessons about personal freedom and liberty when we take it for granted,” he said.

Ornstein’s two brothers were consigned to a forced-labor camp and never returned. Ornstein and her parents were sent to Auschwitz, where she was separated from her father. She and her mother survived to see the Russian army liberate the camp in 1945. She said the most difficult time was after she was freed, she learned of the deaths of her father and two brothers.

Ornstein and her mother returned to Hungary after the war and she married Paul Ornstein, whom she was dating before the war began.

“Hungary was a country I happened to be born in,” she said. “The Hungarians, in my lifetime, did not consider the Jews to be their citizens. I did not consider it to be my country.”

She said they were eager to get out so she and her husband fled to Western Europe. Ornstein graduated from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, in 1952, studying child psychiatry.

“I like to work with kids and families, and it (the profession) suits my personality,” she said.

The couple wanted to move to Palestine, but Ornstein said there were no training opportunities for their careers, so they moved to America in 1952.

“It was difficult at first because we didn’t know the languages and customs,” she said. “We adapted quickly though, because everyone was extremely helpful.”

Over the years, Ornstein felt an internal need to document some of her experiences during the Holocaust. She said she would write one story per year, which she would put away in a drawer.

“The experience influences your whole life,” she said. “It’s hard to separate them.”
At a 1985 service for Holocaust Remembrance Day, Ornstein saw an exhibit of art by Stewart Goldman.

Eventually, Ornstein collected enough stories and wanted to publish them. She remembered Goldman’s exhibit and asked him for help.

Goldman, emeritus professor of painting at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, said he had never done illustrations before.

“Having worked on images that developed from the Holocaust, I told her I would be interested in trying to tackle her stories,” he said.

Goldman said he read and re-read the stories and created a word list that triggered images. He eventually created prints for 13 of her narratives and designed the portfolio that has been extended into a book. The book, “My Mother’s Eyes,” includes pictures of the prints and the stories that inspired them.

Ornstein said she loved the prints and said exhibiting them is a great educational opportunity.

“It’s education to promote tolerance and to try and deal with a tragedy,” she said.
“Prejudice is a dangerous social disease and this exhibit is an opportunity for this kind of education.”

TCU Daily Skiff ©2004
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