Jerusalem born artist, Ariel Schlesinger's Ways to Say Goodbye is composed of just two components: a metal tree and large shards of glass. In art history, trees can be symbols of growth, family, wisdom, and age. Glass is often a symbol for both strength and fragility, transition, or transformation.
The artist describes the piece, saying, "it stands straight and tall but holds in its hands and fingers sharp shattered glass, memories and ideas that seem to reflect pain on it". While the design is simple, it communicates a sense of loss for the past, pride in the present, and hope for the future.
Ways to Say Goodbye is a part of the permanent sculpture collection at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park and was gift from the Jewish Federation of Grand Rapids and the Pestka Family as a way to commemorate Holocaust survivor, Henry Pestka, and as a Holocaust memorial sculpture. The Holocaust was a state-sponsored killing of six million Jewish people, as well as black, Roma, gay people, and people with disabilities by Nazi Germany. While honoring the victims of this specific tragedy, the ideas this sculpture explores can apply to any traumatic event.
Please visit jhwmi.com for more information about Ways to Say Goodbye and the Holocaust Memorial Site.
Ariel Schlesinger. Ways to Say Goodbye, 2019. Cast aluminum and glass. Gift of the Jewish Federation of Grand Rapids. © Ariel Schlesinger.