Ariel Michaels, Artist - via Zoom on Thursday, February 2, 2023 at 12 noon

“The family project started from a place of wonder as a child, when I was walking along the boardwalk in Tel Aviv Israel with my mother and her friend from Auschwitz, while listening in to the stories they would whisper to each other about the people they had lost. I didn’t understand why they had lost these people or know it was related to the Holocaust. But soon after, I began to ask my mother about my family and she explained why many of my relatives were not alive anymore, and I realized that’s what they were talking about on that boardwalk.
That wonder about my family would persist throughout my life, as I would explore it through abstract art and in documentaries and films I would watch about the Holocaust. Then, when my mother died, I saw a bunch of family photographs of lost relatives in her room and saved them, keeping them in my home for years to come. Over time, I began to use these photographs in art, as I created abstract landscapes for these loved ones to reside in. Essentially, I gave them a forever home through a visual feeling that felt right to me.
I decided to take this theme I had explored throughout my artistic career and consolidated it into a project using these people’s real identities, because if the eyes are windows into the soul, then their souls deserved a chance to be shared. And in the act of sharing them and their souls, I end up sharing even more with you as well.
I share an expression of love that you can relate to.  An expression of love for people whom you never met nor will meet but felt touched by. Love for people who were unfairly deemed unworthy, with you instead saying they are worthy and their stories matter. Love for what people’s futures could have been, had their lives not been cut short. Love for people who view this exhibit to let them know that when it comes to loss they’re not alone, and togetherness is powerful when what binds people is caring for life. Love for people who might be veering off track in life and see doing harm to others as lacking any meaning but who were once more empathetic, by showing them that what they do to others spans beyond just that person and could persist through generations, in hopes they reconsider their relationship to empathy because they deserve a better life. And love for the people they are soon to meet, now coming into contact with someone with a greater sense of awareness than before.