These are bits and pieces of cloth, old papers, wood and old rusty metal I have collected this past year.
This book, Hannelore Baron: Works from 1969-1987, by Ingrid Schaffner, was published on the occasion of a traveling exhibition managed by the Smithsonian Institution in cooperation with the Estate of Hannelore Baron and the Manny Silverman Gallery, Los Angeles. You can still find this book used, along with other gallery pamphlets/catalogs at Amazon.com. The Manny Silverman gallery in Los Angeles still represents her works. (None of the images in this post were taken from this publication. )
"Everything I've done is a statement on the, as they say, human condition...The way other people march to Washington, or set themselves on fire, or write protest letters, or go to assassinate someone. Well, I've had all the same feelings that these people have had about various things, and my way out, because of my inability to do anything else for various reasons, has been to make the protest through my artwork...." ---Hannelore Baron
Hannelore Baron was born in Germany in 1926. Her parents were proprietors of a small fabric shop. In 1938, during Kristallnacht (Nov. 9th), Baron witnessed the destruction of her home and the beating of her father. The family hid in the attic and her father was imprisoned at Dachau. Her mother was later arrested. Baron and her brother escaped to Luxemborg, and her parents later joined them. They eventually managed to sail to New York. Over the years she experiences a number of breakdowns and bouts of cancer. Her work goes through a number of transitions as she moved into paper and cloth collage and wooden assemblage. In 1989, there was a retrospective exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
For Hannelore Baron, 1926-1987, making art was a meditative form of experience and communication. She favored materials that were fragmentary in nature and familiar from use: scraps of fabric, wood, string, wire, game pieces, and labels. Together with her own cryptic drawings, she formed small collages and wooden boxes. Baron sought to compose what she called the 'message'-- an imagery of suffering and human hope. --- Ingrid Schaffner
"The materials I use in the box constructions and cloth collages are gathered with great care. The reasons I use old cloth and boxes is that new material lacks the sentiment of the old, and seems dry and hard in an emotional sense. ...I have always worked only for my own satisfaction and if the work is shown and accepted it is a wonder and coincidence to me because it was never intended for that." ---Hannelore Baron
I first saw Hannelore Baron's small, intimate works in a gallery in Seattle, in 1996. I had already seen her works in a book and knew a little about her-- that she had escaped the Holocaust and her childhood memories and adult struggles had informed her work at a deep personal level.
But knowing that small amount of history did not prepare me for the first impression and impact of seeing her work in person. I could not take my eyes off of the small pieces. I became very quiet, the busy city and traffic noises disappeared. I did not want to leave. The works touched me in such a deep way that I still can't explain or understand. But I did realize that this is what art works should do-- make us stop, make us look again and again...there should be a feeling of personal familiarity and universal humanity... a connection.
I would like to dedicate this post to my new found friend, Aleksandra, from the Netherlands. You can find her wonderful blog, New Times Arrived, here.
How Poetry Comes to Me
It comes blundering over the
Boulders at night, it stays
Frightened outside the
Range of my campfire
I go to meet it at the
Edge of the light.
----- Gary Snyder