Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Sale is a Sale.....Or Is It??

I have an Etsy site where I sell paintings and prints sometimes, and I most recently sold the one below:
Hanna the reader, bernhard schlink, literary heroines series, book illustration
Here's what this painting is about, from the description on the Etsy listing:

This painting is a part of a series that depicts female characters from books I've read. This particular painting is inspired by the "Hanna" character in the book, "The Reader" by Bernhard Schlink. 

The book was first published in Germany in 1995 and explores a post-war, post-Nazi Germany. The book centers around Hanna Schmitz, a former SS guard at Auschwitz. "The Reader" is a story about her struggle to come to terms with her past and about how she deals with things in the present moment. Hanna learns to read during her journey. The book was very well received and won many awards. Hanna is such a complicated character and I just had to paint her when I was done reading her story!

So, the newspaper behind her symbolizes her new life, learning to read. The black and white stripes symbolize her being thrown in jail for war crimes after the trials following the Holocaust. The swastika made of skull paper symbolizes her horrific past as an SS guard. To me, a Jewish woman, Hanna's story is a tremendously sad one, but worth exploring as an illustration and part of my Literary Heroines story. (To see this whole series, click here)

So, here's the ironic punchline: with a little cyber stalking (initiated because of a strange sounding email address), I find out I sold the painting to a white supremacist.  Or, at least to someone who likes Nazis so much they make the swastika with the "SS" bolts, their profile picture.  This person's money was already in my bank account, and I had to follow through with the sale in order to keep my reputation on Etsy. This turns my stomach. This is not the point of this painting.  But what am I supposed to do? It's a very exaggerated example of how differently people can interpret artwork, and find their own meaning and connections to the same image.  A good lesson, though one I would have preferred learning another way.  I think I'll have to make a donation to Yad Vashem, the holocaust museum in Jerusalem, that I visited awhile back, to even out cozmic karma. Ugghhhhh....YUCK!


  1. oh wow, what a bummer.

  2. Aww Boo. That person does not deserve your beautiful artwork! Sorry Coriander!

  3. I thought the best thing to do was take his money and donate it right back to Yad Vashem. SUCKA!!! Though I did think about sending a little note with the package saying something like, "A donation has been made in your name".... but though better of pissing off a Nazi. It will be our little secret, guys ;)