October 24, 2002
DAUGHTERS OF ABSENCE TOUCH THE QUIET
Out of Darkness—Weisel Believes the Next Generation Finds Light
“So much has been written about the darkness and horrors of the Holocaust. As daughters of Holocaust survivors, we were buds growing from the nearly dead branches of our parents. But we are the daughters of the future. We turned to the artistic and the creative expressions of life’s beauty in celebrating their survival.” — Mindy Weisel
CHICAGO — Inspired to express the inner silence and strength of the Second Generation, noted author and artist Mindy Weisel will be the featured speaker at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s 2002 Book-and-Author Luncheon on Thursday, October 24, at the Chicago Sheraton Hotel and Towers. Born in the Bergen-Belsen displaced persons camp in Germany in 1947, Weisel is the only daughter of Holocaust survivors and has devoted her art and life to the survival of beauty.
The bud, the essence of the idea for Weisel’s book, Daughters of Absence: Transforming a Legacy of Loss, is examining how feelings of loss can serve as the source for some of the most beautiful artistic expressions. Collaborating with a select and distinguished group of creative women, the book reveals what it was like to grow up in the shadow of their parents’ limitless pain and how they have attempted to come to terms with it through music, painting, photography, prose, and theater.
Much of Mindy Weisel’s work focuses on her inability to meet her parent’s expectations. To them, her very existence represented the victory of an entire people over Hitler’s genocide. She embodied the wasted potential of murdered family members she never met and millions of others. She spent her childhood trying to be an obedient daughter so not to cause her parents any further pain. Years of stifled emotions were released when she began painting. She found freedom to express her joys and sorrows when alone in her studio and her feelings manifested themselves onto her canvasses.
Weisel is also the author of Touching Quiet: Reflections in Solitude (Capital Books, 2000) about the importance of taking time to nurture the spirit. In this book, Weisel paints a canvas brush stroking the language to articulate the emotion and passion of her paintings. She reveals her deepest and darkest moments to draw the reader’s attention to the value of quiet time for reflection.
An accomplished writer and artist, her paintings are in the permanent collections of many museums, including the Smithsonian Institution; Hirshhorn Museum; National Museum of American Art; Israel Museum; Baltimore Museum of Art; Yad Vashem, Jerusalem; and the United States Capitol. Her works have appeared on the covers of many books including works by Primo Levi and poet Heather McHugh. She is an adjunct professor of painting at the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, DC.
Diane and Hal Gershowitz of Chicago are this year’s Book-and-Author event Chairmen, with Frieda and Judd Weinberg serving as Co-Chairs. Hal is a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council—the Museum’s governing body. Frieda is a Holocaust survivor, who recently shared her story for the first time. Under their leadership, corporations and individual support is at record levels. Corporate sponsors include: Bank One; CDW; Exelon Corporation; Kraft Foods; LaSalle Bank; Piper Rudnick; and Walgreen Co. Sponsors: Deborah A. Bricker; Diane and Hal Gershowitz; Lawrence E. & Nancy S. Glick Foundation; Kovler Family Foundation; Ann and Paul Krouse; Frieda and Judd Weinberg; Helen and Sam Zell.
The Museum’s Midwest Regional Office is organizing the program, under the direction of Jill Weinberg. Ticket prices begin at $75. Persons interested in attending should contact the Midwest Regional Office at (847) 433-8099 or Chicago@ushmm.org. This is the Museum’s sixth annual luncheon, and the event is the Museum’s largest regularly held fundraiser. Last year, more then 1,200 people attended.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is America’s national institution for the documentation, study and interpretation of Holocaust history, and serves as this country’s memorial to the millions of people murdered during the Holocaust. Since opening in April 1993, the Museum has welcomed more than 18 million visitors. The Museum’s primary mission is to advance and disseminate knowledge about this unprecedented tragedy; to preserve the memory of those who suffered; and to encourage its visitors to reflect upon the moral questions raised by the events of the Holocaust as well as their own responsibilities as citizens of a democracy.