February’s Portrait of the Month was created by the Memory Project Production’s own Samantha Weisman. Samantha has been a part of the organization since 2012. She reflected on her experience creating this portrait of Aleksander Kuliseiwicz:
“I’ve been working for the Memory Project Productions for nearly 9 years, but since I work remotely, I’ve never attended a workshop. 2020, with all its challenges, provided me with an exciting opportunity to attend a Zoom workshop and so I got to create my first portrait! I’ve read the instructions and student reflections many times, and I was still surprised by how challenging and rewarding it was to draw upside down. I had to work to pull my eyes away from the form and instead focus on light and shadow. Once I got into it, it was very relaxing and meditative. I was truly surprised to see Aleksander’s face appear once I turned the page over.
I really enjoyed spending that time with Aleksander and connecting beyond just reading about him. He used the arts to document and speak out against the horrors of the Holocaust. Writing songs was his way to resist, survive, and give hope to others. I understood that as I spent time creating his portrait, letting the rest of the world melt away for a bit. His example and my experience showed me that we can use art in different ways to handle the difficult times we find ourselves in, both as a personal coping tool and as a way to combat the negativity and hopelessness that we find surrounding us. Building empathy is also a method of resistance to injustice.”