shares life-changing experiences through artwork
Holocaust survivor unveils her stories through various
works in an exhibit in the University Art Gallery.
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
Ornsteins 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 Goldmans Holocaust series.
I didnt 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 its a way of ensuring people
never forget the unspeakable tragedies during
This teaches us all kinds of lessons about personal
freedom and liberty when we take it for granted,
Ornsteins 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
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 didnt
know the languages and customs, she said. We
adapted quickly though, because everyone was extremely
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. Its 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 Goldmans exhibit
and asked him for help.
Goldman, emeritus professor of painting at the Art Academy
of Cincinnati, said he had never done illustrations
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
Mothers 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.
Its 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.