Walk the halls of the Bronfman Family Jewish Community Center in Santa Barbara and you’re likely to run into Maria Segal or Margaret Singer.
The local Holocaust survivors have their artwork in a first-of-its-kind exhibit at the center titled “The Art of Suvivors.”
“This is very interesting,” said Maria Segal, pointing out a landscape to our NewsChannel 3 crew. “This is from the 50s,” said Segal.
A trio of Segal’s paintings hangs side by side, like bright blooms from a garden.
“I love color and that’s why I like flowers,” said Segal.
Down the hallway you’ll find Margaret Singer’s abstract pieces. A portrait of her mother done in layers of cloth and wood; Shredded strips of paper create a colorful crowd of faces behind barbed wire.
“All the years that I’ve been painting, I paint the same subjects,” said Singer. “Actually, it’s the figures and .. the people walking, marching and faces that haunt me,” said Singer.
The two women are living out their golden years with a paintbrush in hand, far from the ghastly images of their childhood.
Segal was five years old when the war broke out.
“When we arrived at the gates of the Warsaw Ghetto, we were all herded into the showers,” said Segal.
The Nazi invasion of Frankfurt forced Singer’s family on a constant move throughout Germany. Eventually, her father obtained visas and the family left for America when Singer was 17.
“I never thanked my father,” said Singer. “Although we loved him and were grateful, I don’t remember saying ‘thank you’ for saving our lives.”
Art has helped both women heal and thrive.
“There is one thing we learned from this horrible time .. every human being is valuable. Every human being is valuable,” said Singer.
While Segal’s artwork is meant to inspire hope and brightness, her dark memories fill the pages of a book titled “Maria’s Story.”
“The reason I wrote the book is because I was not able to speak about my experiences for 50 years,” said Segal. “My children didn’t know who I was.”
The works of seven local survivors — and a total of four generations — will come down Thursday afternoon.
“This is my daughter when she was seven years old,” said Segal, pointing to a child’s painting of a floppy giraffe.
The center’s Portraits of Survival is a permanent collection.