When thinking of a Holocaust and genocide memorial to design, I knew I wanted it to have something to do with children, a Holocaust is a horrible thing for anyone to go through but I think it is especially horrible for children that were affected or murdered in a Holocaust or genocide. I want my memorial to be for the forgotten child, the nameless that you and I will never know about. They will never get to share their story and so I want to do a memorial for them. It’s not fair that monstrous people stole their lives from them; those children don’t get a chance to live out their hopes and dreams. Their last moments in this world were filled with terror and violence.
There are still countries and governments that have not been held accountable for the horrible acts they have committed. The Rohingya people in Myanmar have been treated like dirt for many years and currently there are thousands of them being murdered and hundreds of thousands of them being kicked out of their villages and fleeing for their lives. Our government and other governments around the world are not doing hardly anything to help these people. They were reports just this year of troops setting the Rohingya peoples houses on fire with them being trapped inside. Men and boys are being taken away and the women and children are being raped and killed.
Another example of a genocide still happening is the terrorist group ISIS that has been murdering non-Muslim communities like the Yazidis in Iraq and Assyrian Christians living in Iraq and Syria since they became a group. Just like the troops in Myanmar, ISIS has raped and murdered thousands of these people and ruined the areas where these people lived so they were displaced from their communities. The government in Iraq hasn’t tried to help them people move back or rebuild the destroyed infrastructure. It’s a broken record of the same awful events happening just in a different location of the world.
This class was a difficult one for me to process and reading about all of the monstrous things done to children has really stayed with me. To hear things like babies being trampled to death with horses or being gunned down is just unimaginable. When people look at my memorial I want them to feel sorrow and be disgusted by the acts done to babies and children in a holocaust or genocide. I want my memorial to stay with people so that it stops happening in the future to people but particularly to babies and children. It’s 2018, I cannot believe that genocides are still continuing to happen; we have to shine a bigger light on this problem.
One of the assignments in the class was to look up Holocaust and genocide memorials and pick out a few to talk about. I saw one that inspired my memorial design. It’s located in Budapest and it’s called the Emanuel Tree of Life Memorial, Tony Curtis paid for it in remembrance of his father Emanuel Schwartz and Imre Varge designed it in 1991. Emanuel was a Jewish man that was killed in World War II by the German Nazis. The memorial is a giant metal weeping willow tree with hundreds of thousands of names of the victims inscribed on the leaves from the holocaust of World War II. When I saw the memorial I thought it was such a beautiful way to pay tribute to all of those people that were murdered. The weeping willow tree is a beautiful symbol in itself; just the name of the tree sets the tone for what the artist was going for.
For my memorial design I wanted to have a weeping willow tree and under the tree have a couple of toys just lying on the ground to show that the children were no longer there to claim their toys. I want my design to be inclusive to all of the child victims of Holocaust and genocides so my memorial can be placed anywhere in remembrance for those victims. I went back and forth on the idea of including children in the sketch that I did but I didn’t want it to seem like I was excluding anyone so I decided just to have the lone teddy bear at the bottom of the tree. Girls and boys both play with teddy bears and that is why I chose sketch it in my picture. I am not an artist by any means so I would definitely need to collaborate with someone to turn my sketch into an actual painting with impact. I had a hard time editing myself, I don’t want my sketch to look cluttered and lose the message so my sketch is simple. I thought about adding tombstones in the background of the tree or underneath it by the teddy bear to represent the victims.
Ideally the weeping willow tree would have symbols and names of places on the tree branches and in the leaves to represent places where holocaust and genocides have taken place and are continuing today to take place. I sketched the teddy bear at the bottom because it is universal but also it is the only thing I can decently sketch so another idea I have was to have more diverse toys to show the different back ground of the children. Holocaust and genocides are unfortunately not secluded to one place but multiple places around the world. I would need to do a lot of research with the artist I collaborated with to see what would be appropriate, if anything else, to include. The artist doesn’t have to be well known either; I would just like someone that understands the importance of the painting.
There are two Holocaust museums near me one is located in Richmond, Virginia and the other is in Washington DC. I would like for the painting to go where the most people would have a chance to view it. But I wouldn’t want to limit it to just America. I know there are many Holocaust and genocide museums in Europe so my memorial could be placed somewhere like the Museum of Genocide Victims in Vilnius, Lithuania. Another possibility is it could be placed in the new art museum ODU built, the Barry Art Museum. Since the art museum is free I feel like it would incentivize a lot more people to go and view my memorial. The art museum is open to ODU students but it is also open to the public so anyone can walk in and view the artwork. I want people to see the messages in the painting and be interested enough to go and look something up that they did not know about before seeing the memorial. I was not aware of the genocide still happening in Myanmar like I should have been and I want more people to be aware because together we have the power to make a difference.
Allyson Flora is majoring at ODU in biology. Coming from a science background,s he is used to writing from a reporting perspective: mostly figures and explanations of lab procedures an findings. She is looking forward to writing from a less constrictive manor where she can put more thought into her words.