Glass / Suly Bornstein-WolffOver the past few years I have been working with glass intended for lighting fixtures, vases, plates,... Read More
Glass / Suly Bornstein-WolffOver
the past few years I have been working with glass intended for lighting
fixtures, vases, plates, and other objects. Most of the old glass which I
gather or buy in markets and shops in Israel and abroad is transformed in my
hands to stand-alone sculptural objects.I
construct pieces that look like towers, or perhaps synagogues or churches, or
maybe houses from the past. Others originate in reality or in my imagination.
Still other images bring to mind human figures.I use glass very frequently but
delicately. The process from purchase through the finished object comprises
stages of through cleansing of the object which has been forgotten for years in
a dark corner of one of the out-of-the-way shelves of a dusty shop. After very
slowly washing and drying glass pieces, I intuitively connect the parts, and
create a new object. Each
series contains sub-series, such as “Towers in the Air,” “The Baroque Era,”
“The Royal Courtyard,” and more.The
glass and crystal remind me of the past, stories about my parents’ house in
pre-World War II Europe, seeming to attempt to open a wound that has not yet
scabbed over and which I doubt will ever heal.Born
in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to parents who were Holocaust survivors, as a young girl
I often listened to the pain and suffering that they endured during their
adolescence. Already during my childhood, with the innocence so characteristic
of a child, I found it difficult to understand that their suffering was due
only to the fact that they were born Jewish. As I grew up, it was not long
before I felt that my parents’ life deeply impacted me as a person and as an
artist.The Glass Series:My
mother was born in Moenchengladbach, Germany. She told me how one day, several
months before the war began, German soldiers entered their home, took her
father and imprisoned him in the Dachau concentration camp. My grandfather was
a distinguished jurist; my grandmother used her numerous contacts, and two
weeks later, by some miracle, was able to free her husband from the
concentration camp. While my grandfather was in Dachau, my mother, with her
mother and other relatives, experienced Kristallnacht. That was the night that
the Gestapo, the Nazi secret police, shattered all of the synagogues and broke
into Jewish homes in Germany, burning Torah scrolls and holy texts, as well as
the contents of the buildings.Mother
told me how my grandmother and her four children took shelter that night with
Christian neighbors, fearing they would be taken sooner or later. The next
morning, when they returned home to investigate the damage sustained at the
hands of the Gestapo, they were shocked to find their home in ruins, all the
windows shattered, and the furniture destroyed, including an antique breakfront
in which rare Bohemian crystal objects, wedding gifts and other presents that my
grandmother received since, were kept. All of the lovely objects were shattered
and strewn about. In another room, my mother saw her favorite doll thrown onto
the glass fragments on the floor. This was a horrifying sight for my mother,
which she frequently described. It was very difficult for me at age 10 to
absorb the extent of the evil and the vivid scenes my mother described, but, of
course it all filtered into my mind.The
description of the orphaned doll has arisen in me from time to time since
childhood, as well as in recent years after my mother passed away. Now, added
to her story, were thoughts of a young girl’s sorrow, one whose entire universe
was a doll, a house, and a family, and how in the space of a single night, all
of her security was shattered and disappeared. I then decided to create the
my imagination, I saw myself, member of the Second Generation of Holocaust
survivors, the most terrible disaster in which my father’s parents and siblings
were murdered. After
Grandfather returned from Dachau, after Kristallnacht, he decided to leave
Germany for as distant a generation as possible and the experiences of
Kristallacht, he decided to leave Germany for as distant a location as possible
from that cursed area. In less than a month, accompanied by my grandmother and
their last-born, late-born child, made their way to Brazil. Three of the girls
were sent to England with the Kindertransport, where they were shuttled from one
boarding institution to another for the five years of the war. The Glass Series was
conceived out of the desire that arose repeatedly in me like a mantra: gather
up the remains, put them together, rebuild and renew the crystal tears,
resuscitate them from the earth of Europe soaked in Jewish blood and the cries
of my forefathers. Although the Germans broke all the windows, they never
cleaned up the millions of fragments which were revived by the sunbeams the
next day.The work process begins.
I gather the glass from the floor, renew the shards, and add color and light.My intention: to reveal,
to make something, to expose to the world the maximum capacities of a single
shard of glass…and to reflect to the world the empowerment of the individual,
on behalf of all those who gave up their life but not their faith and hope.
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