Kristen Landsman, a senior at Delone Catholic High School, has won awards for her artwork in the past, but this art contest was different. Her pencil rendition titled “Humanity” was based on the verbal testimony of Holocaust survivor Natan Gipsman. Landsman’s awe-inspiring drawing recently won the top prize in the “Messengers of Memory” 19th Annual Holocaust Art & Writing Contest.
My piece, Humanity, was inspired by Natan Gipsman’s heart-wrenching testimony. I wanted to portray his suffering, but also the courage and determination that Natan and his companion demonstrated. I wanted to capture the brave, split-second decision when Natan’s friend hoisted him up and carried him after he had collapsed. If Natan had been left on the ground just a few minutes longer, he would have been shot. That moment, which could have resulted in his death but instead led to his survival, deserves recognition,” said Landsman.
Prior to creating her contest entry, she viewed a two-hour video of Gipsman describing his survival story. She pieced his testimony together with what she had learned in her humanities class, “The Holocaust and Its Lessons.” Mrs. Jessica Reed, Landsman’s teacher, knew she would be an excellent candidate for this contest.
I received a flyer describing the contest criteria and felt this was an excellent way for Kristen to showcase her artistic talent and reinforce the concepts we were discussing in class,” stated Reed. “Her contest entry exceeded my expectations on every level. It literally took my breath away!”
The contest is sponsored by Chapman University, The 1939 Society, the Samueli Foundation and Yossie and Dana Hollander. The groups reported that Landsman’s winning piece was chosen from entries submitted by students from 255 schools that spanned 31 states and eight countries.
When I received the picture of Natan with my picture it absolutely warmed my heart. It was a completely unexpected treat for me and I could not stop smiling,” said Landsman. “To see a man who I knew had gone through something he made sound worse than hell itself and is now able to smile so big is absolutely inspiring.”
As part of her first place award, Landsman, Reed and a parent receive an all-expense paid learning experience that includes a dinner with Holocaust survivors, a trip to the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, the National Museum of Tolerance and the Japanese American History Museum. They will also receive theater ticks for the musical “The Color Purple” which is touring in Los Angeles. Landsman, Reed and Delone Catholic also receive a cash prize.
Natan Gipson, holocaust survivor, holds Kristen Landsman's "Humanity."