March 21, 2011

Book Review - Through A Narrow Window

When our family traveled in Eastern Europe in the early 1990's, our Prague pen-pals took us to the Jewish Cemetery and the Jewish Museum. In the small museum was a powerful exhibit of art made by children in concentration camps. The impact has never left me and I have always questioned how such artwork could have been made under the circumstances and how it was preserved. 

I chose to review Through A Narrow Window via Story Circle Book Reviews because it not only answers the questions I've had but has more artwork and background about the art teacher, Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, and her students.

Below is an excerpted version of my review now posted on Story Circle.

Through a Narrow Window: Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and Her Terezín Students
Through a Narrow Window
by Linney Wix

Univ. of New Mexico Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0-826-34827-2.
Reviewed by Barbara L. Heller

Posted on 03/08/2010
Through a Narrow Window: Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and Her Terezin Students is a beautiful book about a heart-breaking story. Friedl Dicker-Brandeis (1898-1944) was an artist, facing the usual tribulations of being a female artist in the early 1900s, but she faced a bigger struggle being a Jew in Czechoslovakia when the Germans came to power in the 1940s.
The author, Linney Wix, discusses Friedl Dicker-Brandeis' background as an art student and art teacher and the famous artists who taught and influenced her. The primary focus of the book is on Dicker-Brandeis' time in the Terezin concentration camp, which was created as a "model ghetto" for Nazi propaganda but in reality was a way station to the gas chambers. Friedl Dicker-Brandeis was interred in Terezin at the end of 1942 and was killed at Auschwitz less than two years later.
The fairy tale part of the story concentrates on Dicker-Brandeis' inspired teaching of art to children in the concentration camp and her wherewithal to hide two suitcases full of the artworks before she was transported to her death. This stash was found after the end of WW2.

Through a Narrow Window can serve many audiences. It is a beautiful art book filled with reproductions of work produced by Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and her Terezin students. Wix' essays illuminate Dicker-Brandeis' dynamic theories of art education and art therapy; and, Through a Narrow Window also honors a talented artist and Holocaust heroine.

Dr. Linney Wix is an Associate Professor in the Art Education Program. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Thought and Socio-Cultural Studies from the University of New Mexico (2003), her M.Ed. in expressive therapies from Lesley College (1980) and her B.A. in social work and B.F.A. from the University of Montana. Linney's creative work is in painting and ceramics. She is a Registered Art Therapist (A.T.R.) with the American Art Therapy Association and a licensed professional art therapist (L.P.A.T.) in New Mexico. 

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