The first baby born in the Displaced Persons Camp at Bergen-Belsen right after the war, Mindy Weisel grew up with the responsibility to “be everything” to her parents, who had survived Auschwitz.
Today, she is an acclaimed abstract artist, working in paint and glass. She has had international commissions and exhibitions; her pieces are in the permanent collections of the Israel Museum, Vad Yasem, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, among others.
Mindy’s parents were hard-working immigrants in New York City until they moved their family to Los Angeles when she was eleven. She studied at California State University and received a BFA from George Washington University in 1977.
In her interview, she talks about how she felt when she realized that not every father had a number on his arm and that other children had grandparents and extended families. She describes the impact on her life and work of discovering the only drawing her father ever made—a sketch of a sunrise at Bergen Belsen in 1946 — and her fascination with her father’s number.
Mindy speaks about trips to Germany, where she visited Dachau and met with grandchildren of Nazis, and to Cairo, where she told her story to a group of Egyptian women. Mindy believes deeply that person-to-person connections are what make it possible to move forward with hope.
While her life story informs her work, her art is not about the tragedy and horror of the Holocaust. She has said that she hasn’t done Holocaust paintings since 1979. Instead she conveys the tension between darkness and light and above all, seeks beauty.
At the age of 18, she married a modern Orthodox man, Sheldon Weisel, now a Washington, D.C. attorney; they have three daughters and five grandchildren.
I wanted to be an artist
I don't know what came over me, I had to get the sun coming up
I thought I was rid of the darkness
The actual living a life of a painter was not easy because I was mothering as seriously as I was painting
What's very important to me is my Jewishness…
"As far as the Holocaust is concerned, I'm not interested as an artist in expressing the horrors. I am very interested in the survival of beauty."