Day 2 In Bogotá, Colombia Continued: Museo Botero

Fernando Botero is one of Colombia’s most famous artists. Fortunately, we were able to take some time on our tour to explore his museum in Bogotá—Museo Botero.
Botero is known to paint individuals in a larger manner. He has explained that he paints voluminous people, not fat people. Specifically, he zooms in on their skin and not their facial features. He also doesn’t use models which is why so many of the people in his paintings look similar. One such painting that shows this is his version of the Mona Lisa, which is bigger in size and situated in front of the Andes.
One of the paintings pictured below shows a group of men, with only one of the men sleeping comfortably. This is because he is wearing a watch and to Botero, being in control of time represents power. If you notice, watches can be found in many of his paintings.
Fernando Botero donated much of his artwork to this museum, but had three conditions for doing so. The museum had to be free for everyone to enjoy, he wanted to display the artwork in the museum himself and place everything according to his personal preference, and the last condition was that the paintings could never leave this museum. With the conditions having been met, Botero donated 123 of his own paintings and other paintings that he possessed including many of Picasso’s pieces. In fact, Botero first started by painting artists whom he admired such as Picasso. Shortly thereafter, when Botero began painting other pieces, he painted a person with a guitar that had a smaller sized hole, but instead of calling this a mistake, he decided this would later become his style.
In the late 1970’s, Botero was driving with his son and second wife in Spain when they were involved in a terrible car accident. Botero’s son, Pedro, who was only a child, died in the accident. As a resulting injury of the accident, part of Botero’s finger was cut off. He later traveled to Italy and paid close attention to the sculptures throughout the country. Botero began sculpting because not only was it difficult to paint for some time after his accident, but because he was passionate about volume and knew that sculpting was a great way to give volume to his work. In addition to some of the various sculptures pictured below, you will notice a sculpture of a large hand, which is actually a sculpture of Botero’s hand.
Fernano Botero is the only living artist to sell a painting for over a million dollars, and his work is both enjoyed and celebrated throughout the world.
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Holocaust Remembrance Day

Seeing as yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day, I wanted to post about my experience traveling to Auschwitz in Krakow, Poland this past summer, in addition to meeting a Holocaust survivor in Budapest just a few short days after. I already wrote about this a few months ago in my blog, but seeing as this important day is designated to remember the atrocities that occurred years ago, I thought it would be appropriate to repost some of my experiences.

When my tour group arrived at Auschwitz, the line of people waiting to get in seemed endless. The one positive note about this experience was that so many people wanted to learn about the tragedy that was the Holocaust, so at least we as a society are not forgetting our past. As we walked through the gates into the camp, a sign above us read, “Arbeit Macht Frei,” or “Work Makes You Free,” and one could feel a chilling sensation passing by these words, all while knowing what had once happened here.

There must have been thousands of people on separate tours walking through the camp, but even so, it just seemed so gloomy and desolate. You read about the tragedies that occurred here, you hear stories, and you see movies, but there is nothing that can truly prepare you for walking on the actual grounds. The fencing and barbed wire, the watchtowers, and old, dark brick blocks, and the gloomy gray sky above us really makes you think how people were able to survive such conditions and brutality. The strength and courage that everyone must have had during the Holocaust is unbelievable, and there really aren’t any words that can describe how it makes you feel.

Throughout our tour, we saw hundreds of suitcases, personal belongings, and family treasures that countless people were stripped of. And as we concluded the tour with a viewing of the gas chamber and crematorium, we saw where many of these people were stripped of their lives. It is crucial that we do not forget about this devastating time in history so that such atrocities do not repeat themselves. Genocide has occurred all throughout the world, and with such unspeakable acts of horror continuing to this day, we must speak on behalf of those who lost their lives and advocate for those still alive today before it is too late.

A few days after touring Auschwitz and Auschwitz II-Birkenau, my tour group arrived in Budapest, Hungary, where we walked through the immaculate Dohány Street Synagogue. After walking through the beautiful Synagogue, we came across an elegant little shop run by this cute, little elderly woman who was selling handmade Jewish crafts and goods. We were told that this elderly woman, Lucy Brown was actually a Holocaust survivor. Lucy was a teenager when she, her mother, and sister were taken with the other women from their town on a march, led by the Arrow Cross Army. As they were marching towards the Danube River (where the Jews would be shot and thrown into the River), a street cleaner opened up a gate to clean the grounds behind the gate. Lucy grabbed her mother and sister, and ran through the gate, and fortunately enough, the Arrow Cross leader didn’t notice. Lucy ripped off the yellow stars from their shirts, and the three of them went into hiding until the end of the war, thanks to gentile neighbors and friends of theirs. Because of Lucy’s courage, she saved herself, her mother, and her sister.

There are countless stories of heroic Holocaust survivors, but we must listen to them and pass these stories on before there is no one left to share such experiences.