Essay 184 • Aug 18th 2017

This summer aged me. My family had planned our trip to Poland a while back - but how can you prepare for a trip like this? My grandmother’s parents barely escaped Poland from the Nazi regime, the rest of their family perished in the atrocity that was the Holocaust. As a first generation American for my father’s family, this trip was important. We were the first members of the family to return. Stuffed to the rim with cultural baggage, I spent a week doing nothing but tracing the forced steps my family led towards their unjust deaths. My heart ached in a way I have never felt, and hope to never feel again. I desperately needed to be reminded of humanity’s heart.

After Poland, I set out with camera in hand, and I walked. I watched the micro-narratives that constantly surrounded me - children playing, pigeons flying, tourists fumbling. I remembered what it was like to not know of evil, and slowly, by taking these images, my heart began to fill. Atrocities and genocides continue to happen every day, but I refuse to believe that humans are born with this evil nature. This series is only just beginning. 



Hana Elié Mendel, 20, is a conceptual and visual artist based out of Columbus, OH. Currently, she is attending her third year at the Columbus College of Art and Design, and graduating with a BFA in Photography. Hana is a consummate learner, drawing inspiration from her lifelong inquiries regarding the gender binary, religious theory, and the infrastructure of past dictatorships. Her style often intertwines magical realism with collage, editorial, and documentary qualities. Currently, Hana is focused on using her art as a method of precipitating important dialogue on issues affecting gender, and those who defy institutionalized norms. She is looking forward to participating in conversation initiated by her work, and using her creativity to spark action towards change.

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