|Annette Turow, Steve Orlen
mixed media on canvas
(acrylic with pumice, oil stick, pencil)
64" x 42"
What The Children Wanted
Jews were on the run for nearly a hundred generations.
The story is short, it always begins, Out of Egypt, and the children
At the table turned to listen, then turned again because the door swung open
And let in the wind of April and the story of a girl with blood streaming
From her forehead to her upper lip, and on the back of her dress,
The smears of mud. Out of her mouth a few words flew,
Each like the sting after a slap, and from the elders at the table, a
Then the packing, quick, not the green dress but the black,
In which the silver coins of family history had been sewn, then she
Chose among the faces of the dead and placed them between the pages
Of her diary, blank because nothing had happened before this day.
Then into the woods, the swamp, then the river. Some men struggled
Great logs onto big hooks and sent them slowly across. The girl
Wanted to write the story in the diary, in the middle of the story,
As she waited her turn, but all that came to mind were those grunts.
They were small, they glowed, like embers carried in a sheep’s horn
Across a desert. Each year at this time we preserve them by uttering them.
The children are always startled by the noise, then they ask for more.
Artist Annette Turow and Poet Steve Orlen
This collaboration began when Annette Turow had started a series based on a song from the Passover
hagadah entitled “Who Knows One.” One piece in development was a 40”x60” painting, with large
compositional elements integrating as “one.” Steve Orlen sent a group of his new poems including one
entitled “What the Children Wanted” which explored the emotion and experience of the Passover seder while
Jews were fleeing their homes in modern times.
The shared subject moved Turow and Orlen into the next stage. The song from the hagadah was written in
thirteen sections. Orlen was able to divide the poem into thirteen stanzas. Turow integrated the words as
compositional elements into her painting. Together, the elements developed a natural flow.
The quote from Deuteronomy 6.7, “And thou shalt teach them diligently….” was the quote on a hagadah
that Turow had previously designed. All of these factors contributed to a subject, structure and
composition that came from a shared desire to explore and recreate a past which is meaningful and
dynamic to both artists.