Exhibit highlights artist's German family history

Photo by M.J. Subiria Arauz
A photograph of the late Henry Lesser is included in the exhibit entitled, "Liebe Papa." Lesser would send postcards, which displayed a picture of himself, to his father, from South Africa.

Photo by M.J. Subiria Arauz A photograph of the late Henry Lesser is included in the exhibit entitled, "Liebe Papa." Lesser would send postcards, which displayed a picture of himself, to his father, from South Africa.

By M.J. Subiria Arauz


Viewers of a new art exhibit will be able to go back in time and learn the story of a tight-knit, German-Jewish family, that immigrated to South Africa to escape Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany, said artist, Lesley Price.

Price said the exhibit entitled, "Liebe Papa," means darling daddy, or dear daddy, in the German language, and can be viewed in the atrium of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The exhibit is an art project created through mementos, postcards and documents collected by Price's late father, Henry Lesser, said DeAllous Smith, a spokesman for Hartsfield-Jackson. The exhibit will be displayed until July 13.

Price said she obtained the postcards through a family friend and saw the rich family history in a different, artistic light.

"Here we see the story of one family's journey," added Katherine Dirga, airport art program manager at Hartsfield-Jackson. "These photographs prove to be records, combined with fictional imagery used to tell a layered and intuitive, but no less 'true' account of the artist's family history."

Till Eulenspiegel, a legendary and fictional German figure, is included in the photographs, said Price. The character is a trickster known for exposing greed, vices, folly and hypocrisy. Struwwelpeter, another popular German character, is very corrupt. These characters were included in children's stories that Price's father shared with her as a young girl, which demonstrated disastrous consequences for those that misbehaved, she said.

"My dad being German, I had a lot of German influence in my life ... because we [siblings] were all very close to my dad," said Price, about why she decided to include the characters in her artwork. "He would love reading and always gave kids' books."

Price said most of the artistic images are postcards containing pictures of Lesser as a baby and child. Lesser would send these postcards to his father, from South Africa, she said. The postcards were expanded to 12 inches by 12 inches, and 17 inches by 17 inches.

Price added that Mercedes Benz of South Atlanta and The Puffin Foundation sponsored the exhibit, which assisted with framing costs.

Smith explained that Price's father was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1919 and immigrated to South Africa when he was 13 years old.

Price added that in about 1933, her grandfather saw that life in Germany was becoming worse, and chose to send her father and her grandmother to South Africa. She explained that her grandfather and grandmother were divorced at the time. "Because my dad left Germany before the war, he left with everything," Price explained.

From the African continent, Lesser began writing postcards to his father, which began with "Liebe Papa," said Smith.

Price said her grandfather moved with his wife to England, in about 1936. Her grandfather continued to fly back and forth to Germany because his clothing factory was there. "Eventually, somebody warned him not to come back, or they [Nazis] will get him," she said.

Price said she was born in South Africa.

She said in 1987, she decided to move her family to the U.S. "It was the time of the apartheid and Nelson Mandela wasn't freed yet," she explained. "I didn't want to bring them up in a place where things were getting a lot worse, before they got better."

Her sister lived in Atlanta with her family, so that is why she decided to settle in the city, said Price, a 24-year Atlanta resident.

Price said she was once a kitchen designer for a German company, but decided to become an artist 10 years ago.

She said she was convinced to use her talents in art by close friend, Harriet Sanford, who was president of the Fulton County Arts Council.

Price said she was always attracted to print as a form of art, and enrolled herself in printmaking and photography classes at Georgia State University, in Atlanta, to hone her skills.

"When I first started printmaking, I knew I loved it," she said.