© Susan Geissler 2013       Built by andrephoto.com
Susan Geissler

The Butterfly

The Butterfly is a gift from a group of generous donors, coordinated through the efforts of Buffalo photographer Milt Ehrenberg. “I knew the sculpture should have a home at the JCC where members of the community could see it and appreciate its beauty as well as everything it stands for, and so I became determined to raise the money to purchase it as a permanent display” says Ehrenberg.
Artist Susan Geissler created the Butterfly sculpture in June, 2007. After spending an afternoon showing the Jaffe family, who were visiting from Maryland, the process by which she creates bronze sculpture, Geissler was asked by Joe Jaffe to take on the commission of this sculpture, inspired by the poem, The Butterfly, Joe wanted to honor his father, Warren Jaffe, who was a survivor of Gurs Internment Camp, with the gift of the sculpture, which he eventually did, much to his father’s joy. The sculpture includes barbed wire from Warren Jaffe’s dairy farm that he established in Maryland, once he was able to make his way to the United States. The hands tell the story of a determined and strong man, destined for survival. The black marble base from which the hands rise, show the dark experience from which he rose; the frayed barbed wire indicates that people broke free from their torment; while the connected piece of wire serves to remind that the memory of the Holocaust must be kept alive. The butterfly, which is the inspiration for the poem, glows in gold, strong in its delicate form. “The wire within the sculpture very much comes from the poem of the Last Butterfly and seeing that beauty still existed outside such a horrible place… it is also from the barbed wire that surrounded the camp at Gurs,” says Jaffe. “ My father described the wire, and that it was not impenetrable, but they had nowhere to go outside of the fence; escape was pointless. There were towns nearby, but all taken up by Nazi sympathizers, or camp workers. My father’s hands, particularly because he had worked a dairy farm throughout his adult life were strong, and rugged like the hands in the art piece; and he always kept a positive look on life, hope, right to the end of his life. The statement he said to me that will always stay with me, and comforted me when he died, was: “Life is a gift, and each day that we live is a bonus and should be lived as such”. This from a man who saw the inside if evil as the world has ever known; lived through two open heart surgeries, cancer, and a stroke…felt even then, that life is a gift.”