El Paso, TX

Shane Wiggs, an art teacher at Austin High School, sent us a photo of a piece he worked on with his students, based on the image of our subject, Wlodimierz Daniluk. Shane and his students created pieces for the El Paso Holocaust Museum, inspired in part by an installation by Christian Boltanski. Part of what guided them through the process was Boltanski’s notion that: “Art-making is not about telling the truth but making the truth felt” and “The photo replaces the memory. When someone dies, after a while you can’t visualize them anymore, you only remember them through their pictures.”

Shane described the art-making process:

“It’s 44 inches by 56 inches on 16 seperate canvases… acrylic. We laid a grid on the photocopy of Wlodimierz that proportionally corresponded to the canvases. The ratio was not an even number or even a cooperative fraction… so we had to estimate a couple areas (I actually had a math teacher help with this part and he had an interesting suggestion for using the grid to gradually uncover the biographical text of the piece).”

We asked the students to reflect on the process, and several remarked on the process of working together as a community:

“Throughout the process of creating this piece I found genuine enjoyment…being able to cooperate with my classmates in order to commemorate the man who suffered a tragic fate.”
—Ashley L.

“I like how we all worked together to make this project successful.”
—Alfonso E.

“To be honest, I really liked this group project because I think it’s better to work as a team than individually. Everyone did a part and it worked fine because the picture looks awesome.”
—Danna R.

“I genuinely enjoyed making this piece and seeing everyone’s art come together to form this amazing  piece. combining our efforts and learning the person we were painting was also very good motivation to see this through to the end.”
—Victor C.

Portrait of Wlodimierz Daniluk

Austin High School students who created the portrait