Anne Frank at Her Desk, 2008 Oil on linen 46 × 28 inches
Anne Frank at Her Desk, 2008
Oil on linen 46 × 28 inches

I’ve done many pictures of Anne (one that has been at the Cleveland Museum of Art on continuous exhibition for years now), but this is one of my favorites. Although she wasn’t American, I hope that she and her story fits into this show as her work had more influence in America that it did in Europe when it first came out, and beyond relating the horrors of the Holocaust, she also was able to relay what it was to be a strong female protagonist to a nation of baby boomers, serving as a model of not just of Holocaust and Redemption, but also becoming a Judy Blume-like writer of a young woman who didn’t want to be "merely domestic" like her own mother. What’s also uncanny to remember is that she would still be alive if she hadn’t been murdered by the Nazis, and it could be quite possible she would have immigrated to America, where she would be about the same age as my father. I love this picture that I painted from a black and white photo, and like when I’ve painted other works of her, I listened to the entire unabridged Anne Frank diary, which I always find new relevance with, and profoundly am always moved by her strength, eloquence, but also maturity as she grows quickly from a young girl to an articulate, empathic and compassionate young woman. One thing that always strikes me when reading is that she says that she wants to be a writer who is able to relate the cause and plight of the Jews in exile to the world, and its performative, as while she is thinking this she is actually doing this, as her writing is one of the most important documents of our time about World War II. Pertinent to this image is the watch on her wrist, which reminds me of the short time she had, and unconsciously, as I finished the work, I realized the molding behind her reminds me of the train tracks to Auschwitz where she would be transported and perish, and also unconsciously, it seems that underneath the desk is a shape that reminds me of her heart, which was so strong, and her spirit, which is still alive today through her work. This originally was for a show entitled "Good Leaders, Endangered Species, Ships at Sea pt. II" which acted as a sort of "chapter" or "book" for the meta-narrative of My American Dream, the idea being that we needed more Good Leaders, as they were like an Endangered Species, in a world that was like a Ship at Sea, exhibited during the election that was won, wonderfully, by Obama. What better example of this subject than Anne Frank, who was such a great leader in a perilous time. I do think art can change the world and make it a better place, and Anne Frank and her work is an example of this and model for us all.