Art News: Anne Frank: A History For Today

Anne Frank: A History For Today

Samara Alpern
5 min read
Outside the Attic
“Remember,” pastel portrait by Leo Neufeld
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“Will I ever become a journalist or a writer?” wrote Anne Frank while her family hid from the Nazis in a secret annex in Amsterdam. “I hope so, oh I hope so very much … ”

Though Frank died just two years later at age 15, her wish did in fact come true. Her diary, published posthumously first in 1947, has since become one of the most widely read books in the world.

More than 5,000 miles from Amsterdam and 65 years after the Holocaust, Anne Frank’s experiences still resonate. On a sunny near-spring afternoon, middle school students from Deming and Cimarron are among the 7,000 people to so far visit the
Anne Frank: A History for Today exhibition at Coronado Center.

Brought to Albuquerque by
New Mexico Human Rights Projects, the display includes a maze of panels detailing Frank’s life and the history of the Holocaust. The exhibit comes from the Anne Frank House in the Netherlands and is supplemented with local contributions of film, art and a series of speakers.

On this day, students crowd into a small lecture space and listen as NMHRP founder Regina Turner introduces the speaker, Holocaust survivor Evy Goldstein Woods. “Yours is the very last generation to hear the story of a Holocaust survivor,” Turner tells the students.

Ms. Woods, who wears her hair in a pert pixie cut and lines her blue eyes in aquamarine pencil, is a native of Germany who has lived in Albuquerque for the last 20 years. Ms. Woods weaves her story, that of hiding in a tiny attic in Berlin similar to Frank’s and a youth spent in a Russian orphanage, with modern and regional parallels.

“My last name was Goldstein—it means ‘gold stone,’ two nouns, just as with some Native Americans,” she says. “We bought our house in Albuquerque from a Native American couple, Mr. and Mrs. Running Water.”

Woods correlates susceptibility to Nazi propaganda with America’s reverence for empty celebrity.

“Don’t do what the TV tells you!” she says. She explains how children in Germany were indoctrinated by Nazi propaganda in schools, youth programs and church.

“You’ve got to learn and train yourself to be an individual,” says Woods, motioning to her head, and then her heart.

Afterward, the students examine the rest of the exhibit, peering closely at the art lining the walls. The show, titled
Looking Through the Shadows: Interpretations in Art , features work by 10 local artists.

The diverse collection includes “House of Democracy” by
Steve White, an assembly of Pez dispensers refashioned as Bill Moyers, Jackie Robinson, Harvey Milk and a score of others. Nearby, classic dark oils by Brian O’Connor describe vicious, absurd human comedies: In “Hurry Up,” a man toils in a hamster wheel while a bicyclist rides on top of the wheel in the opposite direction. The formality of the painting amplifies the farce. Also on display are a series of somber pastel portraits of Holocaust survivors, including Evy Woods, by Leo Neufeld.

As the kids check out the art, they scribble notes on scraps of paper, then drape the missives on a large tree sculpted from metal. The tree is an art project by Sandia High School students. Visitors are invited to write personal messages and hang them from the tree; the messages will be collected and published.

Though the exhibit comes from the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, the nonprofit organization New Mexico Human Rights Projects coordinated a broad local volunteer effort to bring the exhibit to Albuquerque. The space was provided free of charge by Coronado Center, and various contractors donated their services to transform a wrecked former Halloween costume headquarters into an elegant museum.

NMHRP formally employs just three people, but the group depends on hundreds of volunteers. The organization has, over the last 15 years, provided more than 200,000 participants with education countering prejudice. In 2000, the group brought one of Frank’s rescuers, Miep Gies, to speak. This year, the CEO Emeritus of the Anne Frank House and President of the Contemporary Holocaust Education Foundation in New York, Cor Suijk—a close friend of Gies, as well as of Anne’s father, Otto—will give a free presentation at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 20.

As the students from Deming and Cimarron leave the exhibit and head to the buses for the long ride home, NMHRP founder Regina Turner reminds them to consider what they’ve learned today. Her hope is that these kids hear “the universal message” about the importance of respecting differences.

“Carry this message to your class, your friends and family,” she says. “Because the story must be told.”

Anne Frank: A History for Today

Coronado Center (Upper Level, East Entrance)

6600 Menaul NE

Through March 31

Free, donations accepted

See the full schedule of events and gallery hours at

Outside the Attic

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