Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Marian Kolodziej - art and reflection

As I was brainstorming about what to write for my next blog, I kept coming back to the haunting images I saw in the basement of a Polish monastery one dreary October day.  It is in the St. Maximilian Kolbe Franciscan Center where the moving works of Marian Kolodziej permanently reside.  Kolodziej, who was a 17 year old Polish Catholic resistance fighter, was on the first transport to the newly established Auschwitz camp.  As a Polish Catholic, he was not imprisoned in Birkenau- the death camp.  But the suffering he endured as a prisoner of the Nazi regime and the pain he saw inflicted on others left its mark.  Kolodziej suppressed the memories until he suffered a stroke at age 71.  At that point, he used these memories in his recovery process and began drawing moving and symbolic images based on his experiences in Auschwitz, Gross-Rosen, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen and Mauthausen-Gusen.

Because I viewed Marian Kolodziej’s work four years ago, I did a little Googling to view some of his works and get some details of this amazing artists.  Apparently, unbeknownst to me, there was a documentary produced in 2010 (a year after my visit) called “The Labyrinth”.  The makers of this short documentary interviewed Kolodziej before his death.  He allowed his words (not his voice) and profile to be seen but stressed that he wanted his story and his art to be about the memory of those who were lost.  By watching the trailer for the movie (and certainly the movie in its entirety), you can not only see some of his work, but the space in which it is housed.  You can also hear the moving words of Kolodziej.  His story and his work is a powerful way to use a very personal testimony with our students.

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