Noy Spiegelman, artist; Cvia Nouerman Rodin, interviewee
“Women can do anything”
Cvia Nouerman Rodin was born in Lithuania in July 1936. She spent several years in the Kovno Ghetto and survived the holocaust with the help of different women. Cvia made aliya to Israel in 1948 and studied there until she met her husband and moved to the United States in 1961, where she studied art. Israel nonetheless remained central in Cvia’s life. Cvia has three children and four grandchildren and now lives in Tallahassee, Florida. Cvia is writing a journal of her life story.
Artist: Noy Spiegelman
My piece attempts to move from Cvia’s dark childhood towards strong and positive motivation, light coming out of the dark. Cvia’s dress is formed of bright puzzle pieces, representing her strength and boldness; one puzzle piece is missing to symbolize the “black hole” the Kovno Ghetto left in her memory. One day, as a very young girl in the ghetto, Cvia’s father asked her what she would do if she were a bird. She responded that if she were a bird, she would fly out of the ghetto, sit on a branch, look at dad and mom, and then return to the ghetto. She would not leave her parents by themselves. Because this time of her life was so dark, Cvia does not actually remember this episode, but she was told this account by her father. It seemed so meaningful when she told me that I knew I had to depict it somewhere in the portrait. In the end, I decided to cover the location of the missing puzzle piece with the image of a bird flying out from behind a barbed-wire fence. Between the puzzle pieces of Cvia’s life are excerpts from the journal she is writing. The journal encompasses her life, except for the ghetto, which she has yet to fill in. Musical notes of songs she mentioned during the interview are also incorporated into this layer of the dress. Cvia truly believes that women can do anything. She is especially grateful to nuns, who selflessly helped her during her childhood. In spite of everything Cvia experienced in the first 12 years of her life, she became a strong woman determined to share her message with future generations.
Visit jwa.org/teach/bestpractices/weberschool2009/ to learn more about this project.