Arbeit Macht Frei
14 x 17 Rapidograph pens, Gouache, Graphite, and Silver Metal Ink on Bristol Board
I did this piece when I was 23 years old. The title of this piece was at the gate of every concentration camp during the Holocaust. It means, “Work gains freedom”, it is a sad reality that this event took place in our history, it created the notion of a Jew by blood or heritage, rather than by religion. I am Jewish by heritage, even though I have my own beliefs on God which do not match any religion created by humans, I am Jewish by culture and heritage. I thought it would be time to make my own statement about what occurred in Europe during WW2. It all happened to due a man named Adolph Hitler, who had an idea to create a pure white Arian race of people and exterminate ones he considered inferior. Due to that one man, 11 million people died and were exterminated in an organized fashion. I have visited Dachau concentration camp memorial when I went to Germany, and it had a profound impression on me, being there was as if visiting a place of horrible tragedy, where half a million people died. I went to look at the showers, I went inside the gas chamber which was only 6 feet high from the floor and on the top there were tubes that would release poison gas, to kill men, women, and children, then of course the Nazis would recycle that gas to use again and again and again. In this piece I described a pile of corpses building up on a monumental scale, as further up they go, they begin to abstract, which also gives my take as an artist on the subject matter due to Hitler’s degenerate art show, and that is how he saw everyone who was not like him. There are two crematory ovens with bones inside, the ovens with their perspective lead to the pipe which exhales large amounts of smoke out of which there are 11 pigeons, which signify 11 million victims of this horrible tragedy. I did intense stippling to create the smoke, and I estimate there are about 100 thousand dots used to create the dense smoke, which is only a fraction of how many people died, of course the smoke leads off the page suggesting that it goes up to 11 million dots, which is about 110 times more than what you see. Under the smoke you see the sign “Arbeit Macht Frei” which as I stated earlier means Work gains freedom, but in reality the only freedom the prisoners got was organized death, after being worked to the bone. Under there is a saying that supposedly Stalin once stated which says “ The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.” This state of mind is in any dictator, they are completely separated from what is going on, and to them a life is just a number. Under it you see a Nazi shooting a woman in the head who is trying to cover up her newborn child, this I actually took from an archival photograph, so this really did occur. Under that there is a big swastika which is the ideals that Hitler had created for Germany, and it leads in his heart which is what he truly believed in. In the middle of the Swastika is the focal point of the piece, a small Jewish girl in a red coat holding her teddy bear as she was shot in the head for no other fact than being Jewish. I used Silver plating for the gas pipe, the ovens, and Hitler’s belt as well as buttons, uniting all of them as being cold, harsh, and clean in their way of getting rid of what they don’t want. This piece really took it’s toll on me, physically and mentally, I just hope that with this notion people will learn to be more tolerant toward one another, because I wouldn’t want to see any genocide ever happen again. From Armenian genocide, to the Jewish genocide, to Slavery, I think humans need to help one another rather than distinguish their differences and consider their own kind superior to others. May the souls of all genocide victims rest in peace. NEVER AGAIN!