Ellen Handler Spitz, honors college professor of visual arts, spent her winter break traveling to the Czech Republic, for research, and to India, where she gave the first annual alumni lecture to English Alumni Association of Ravenshaw University in Cuttack and the keynote address at the International Seminar on Children’s Literature and Politics.
Spitz shares an account of her journeys and experiences abroad below.
My trip started in the Czech Republic, where I am researching the children’s drawings from Terezin, a Nazi concentration camp. This project started for me years ago when Peter Jelavich, a Weimar period historian who is now at Johns Hopkins University , asked me to work with him on a children’s opera, ‘Brundibar’ by Hans Krasa, which was produced in the camp and performed entirely by children. (This opera was performed last year in Baltimore at the Chizik Amuno Synagogue, where I gave an illustrated introductory talk.) Since first visiting the camp 20 years ago, I have written and lectured on the opera and Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, the Bauhaus-trained artist who became the children’s art teacher. Over 4,000 drawings survive today, saved and hidden by her before she was taken to the gas chambers of Auschwitz; to write on them is my next project.