Selma’s Stuff

“Selma” is based on a family legend concerning my grandparents from Dessau. According to the story, on the eve of their departure from their city after Kristallnacht, my grandparents Mayer and Selma Reich, together with their son-in-law, stood on the riverbank sadly and quietly throwing precious belongings into the river. Later that night, they took a train to Paris.

Unfortunately, my grandparents did not survive. In 1943 they were sent from Paris to their death in Auschwitz.

I was curious about the nature of the objects they threw into the river, but no one from the family remained alive who could tell me and extensive research did not turn up documentation of any similar cases of European Jews throwing possessions into water during the war.

Over time, those objects that I so wanted to decipher but could not discover became transformed in me into memories of a grandmother who was not a beautiful women and not an intellectual but had a passion for life that created a warm home for her husband and two children and shrewdly managed the shoe store on the ground floor of their home. In effect, memories of a liberal and somewhat assimilating bourgeois Jewish family.

Three series of etchings and 6 embroideries
Third series, etching and embroidery on paper, 2017