An art exhibit by Ariella Lindenfeld ’18 titled “Never Forget” featured artistic reflections and historical artifacts from the Holocaust and continued even after newspaper clippings valued at $2,500 went missing on March 26.
Lindenfeld, who began working on the project over a year ago, said her interest in the Holocaust began because of her family background and continued with her participation in the March of the Living during high school.
A unique feature of her exhibit, which was open from March 25 to March 28, was a table with antique newspapers Lindenfeld found at her Grandpa’s house.
“I was looking through these really cool antique newspapers, and it went with my topic,” Lindenfeld said. “Then my mom was looking at them on a table, and it was a metaphor like how my grandfather had probably read the newspapers and then my mom, his daughter, was looking through them, and it was [showing] a generational thing.”
A few of the newspapers, specifically those with large headlines about Nazis, were stolen. Ariella is working with police in an ongoing investigation to resolve the matter. Helene Lindenfeld, her mother, saw these events as particularly heartbreaking because the newspapers belonged to Lindenfeld’s grandfather.
“It had a very emotional effect on her because they are a collection that my father left for the family,” Helene said. “It was important because she felt she could use family history in this project, so she felt like a piece of her was invaded. But, it’s another piece to this story.”
The exhibit also featured photographs, paintings and sculpture-like objects arranged to capture emotions the artist had and the series of events that happened at the time. One such feature was a piece called “Scrapes and Scratches” that included five paintings in a row that represented Lindenfeld’s emotions during a visit to the gas chambers in Europe.
“When you walk into the gas chambers, you feel the anguish in the room, you see all the drips on the walls from the gas, you see the scrapes on the concrete,” Lindenfeld said. “It’s surreal to be in there, and I was trying the replicate the feeling, not necessarily what it was.”
On the adjacent side of the room was the piece “Vanishing” that consisted of two chairs facing each other with a mirror behind them. Lindenfeld painted the chairs herself and sought to arrange them in a meaningful manner.
“The chairs are representing all the people that were lost in there and it’s just the emptiness you feel when you see those chairs,” Lindenfeld said. “The mirror reflects that emptiness onto you.” Helene was extremely impressed with her daughter’s work, particularly Lindenfeld’s ability to express two important aspects of the Holocaust through art — her own reflection and remembrance of the people.
“The impression is within the gas chambers and what reminds her of being in the camps, so it’s all of the melting and the loss of identity and the loss of people, and then also the plaques are very much in remembrance of everyone,” Helene said. “So, I think she’s doing both. And then in the end, she’s almost suggesting that everybody question themselves with the chairs in front of the mirror,” hinting at responsibilities the world has moving forward from the Holocaust, she said.
Lindenfeld hoped that, through this topic, she could create pieces that would urge people to remember the Holocaust — an intention reflected in her piece “One Amongst the Stars,” which consisted of various paintings of Stars of David with the word “Jude” on them that Jewish individuals had to wear during the time period.
She was able to accumulate many different types of art into her exhibit and combine knowledge from every class she has taken at Cornell. The exhibit was Lindenfeld’s first time doing a solo exhibit, making the experience both exciting and nerve-wracking.
“It was different in that I got to curate the whole thing whereas when I’m in a group show I tend to try to go with whatever everyone else wants,” Lindenfeld said. “This was my first time having to think where to place everything, how to tell a story with my own work. And all the pressure came from me.”