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October 30, 1987 - Image 71

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-10-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

!L IN t-AufuNivrErsr-
____ r

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Friedman's Holocaust memorial piece is inscribed "Thou Shalt Not Kill."

METAL MAN

Henry Friedman creates beautiful
sculptures out of 'junk" metal

H

JUDY MARX

Special to The Jewish News

enry Friedman is a man
with a message, and he
uses art to help him speak
out loudly and clearly.
"As a survivor, each day
is precious to me," says the man who
spent five of his teen years confined
to Nazi extermination camps. He saw
with innocent eyes the mass grave
where German soldiers had buried
more than 1,000 of his neighbors. He
came upon the blood and the huge

burial ground where the warm earth
still moved in waves. Paralyzed and
speechless, he broke into a cold sweat
and made a commitment that some
day, as a free man, he would return
to that Holocaust site.
Last month Friedman talked to
students and staff at Madonna Col-
lege about the German atrocities and
about Judaisria. His lectures aren't
new; he has been speaking for more
than 20 years at schools and
synagogues, museums and galleries,
his way of interpreting history and ex-
plaining the powerful sculptures he
has constructed from discarded metal

parts.
Friedman received his first
engineering training in Rome.
Liberated from Mauthausen in 1945,
the then 21-year-old had wanted to go
directly to Israel. But the British were
letting in so few, he recalls, and the
wait was very long. "ORT came to the
camp in Italy where we were confin-
ed and asked us what professions in-
terested us. I wanted to become an
engineer. So ORT paid my tuition and
sent me to an industrial engineering
school. ORT made me "what I am to-
day."
After two years an uncle arrang-
ed for Friedman to come to New York.
"I started to work in a tool and die
shop, but I had learned my trade us-
ing the metric system." Afraid of los-
ing his job, he turned once more to
ORT, "and they became my 'guardian
angels? They sent me for some train-
ing, and in a couple of nights I had
learned how to convert to inches and
feet. Amazingly, I had no more pro-
blems at the shop."
Better business opportunities
awaited Friedman in Detroit. As a
"trouble shooter" for a company in
Garden City that manufactured
automation robots, one day he came
upon a large pile of "junk" in the cor-
ner, discarded machine parts. It was
a trouble-free day, and Friedman
decided to fill some empty time "and
see what I could do with these pieces
of junk." An hour later, a man of
metal took shape.
"Where did you buy that?' my
wife asked. Amazed that I had made
it, she asked me to make her another
one."
The next day Friedman found
other used materials and started to
weld together the figure of a
ballerina. "But while I was welding,
my foreman tapped me on the
shoulder and told me that because of
insurance reasons I wasn't allowed to
do that sort of work on company time.
He started chewing me out, until he
took a closer look at what I was do-
ing. 'Hank, he said. You know this
looks good. Make me one also for my
wife.' " Soon after, artist/engineer
Friedman received more "commis-
sions." The firm's president, vice
president and foreman all wanted
robot-like sculptures "for their wives."
It was at that point 25 years ago
that Friedman realized that he could
use his skills to make a statement
about the Holocaust. "If we do not
learn about the past, we have no
future," he stresses. From that belief
emerged a metallic portrayal of life in
an extermination camp, entitled "I
Accuse."
"My teenage daughter wanted me
to submit the piece to an art competi-
tion," Friedman explains. In the sum-
mer of 1962 "I Accuse" won "Best of
Show" in the Michigan State Fair
Arts Competition.

I GOING PLACES I

WEEK OF
OCT. 30- NOV. 5

MUSIC

MICHIGAN OPERA
THEATRE
Fisher Theatre, Detroit, Man of
La Mancha, 8 p.m. now through
Nov. 14, admission, 874-SING.
FOLKTOWN
Southfield Civic Center, Parks
and Recreation Building, 26000
Evergreen, Marcia Taylor, 8 p.m.
Saturday, admission, 855-9848.
DETROIT SYMPHONY
ORCHESTRA
Orchestra Hall, Detroit,
"Bewitched Classics- A Musical
Masquerade," 9 p.m. Saturday,
admission, 559-1987.
OPERA LITE
Wallace F. Smith Theatre,
Oakland Community College,
Farmington Hills, The Pirates of
Penzance, 8 p.m. Friday and
Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday,
admission, 471-7700.
FARMINGTON COMMUNITY
BAND
Harrison High School, 29995 W.
12 Mile, Farmington Hills,
"Spooktacular II," concert, 7:30
p.m. today, costumed guests free,
661-4610.
LYRIC CHAMBER
ENSEMBLE
Orchestra Hall, Detroit,
"Chamber Music on a Grande
Manner," concert, 3:30 p.m.
Sunday, admission, 357-1111.

CHILDREN

PEANUT BUTTER PLAYERS
Austin Hall, 18000 E. Warren,
Detroit, Pinocchio, lunch at
noon, 1 p.m. Saturday and
Sunday, through Dec.
12,admission, 559-6PBP.
DETROIT INSTITUTE OF
ARTS
Detroit Institute of Arts
museum/auditorium theatre,
Gabriel Ghost, 11 a.m. and 2
p.m. Saturday, admission,
832-2730.

COMEDY

DUFFY'S ON THE LAKE
8635 Cooley Lake Rd., Union
Lake, Bob Posch and John
Cionca, 9:30 and 11:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, admission,
363-9469.
COMEDY CASTLE
Northwood Inn Dining and
Lounge, 2593 Woodward,
Berkley, Jack Gallagher 8:30
and 11 p.m. today and Saturday;
Kevin Rooney 8:30 and 11 p.m.
Wednesday through Nov. 7,

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

71

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