All Posts By

Lucinda Kollenhoven


By 2016, Europe No Comments

Not once could my feet fall flat on the uneven stones. Not once could I ease the tension in my knees and legs. Not once could I lose focus to make the next step.

Never will I be able to imagine what it was like.

The ‘Stairs of Death’ at Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Austria are appropriately titled for their history, as well as the sense of demise that comes to those who visit. Most prisoners of Mauthausen Concentration Camp were forced to work as slave labour in the quarry. Prisoners, who weighed an average of about 110lbs, went up and down the stairs 16 times in one day, carrying stones anywhere from 80 -120lbs.

With nothing but a half empty 24oz bottle of water in hand, I made my way down the path. After six steps I became frustrated. The stones were so unevenly placed that my ankles were rolling and my feet began to get sore (I was wearing Nike runners). I soon approached the steep decline of the stairs and my frustration quickly became a jumble of emotions from deep sadness to infuriating anger. Each step was a struggle. The steps were tilted up or down, crooked, lopsided, anything but straight and flat. There I was, a 150 lb, relatively healthy woman, not deprived of food, water, sleep, or hygiene, frustrated by the stairs. Trying to imagine what it would have been like in the conditions of the prisoners in the 1930’s/40’s? Impossible.

NEVER will I be able to imagine what it was really like.

The Language of Art

By 2016, Europe No Comments

Over a dozen museums and hundreds (probably thousands) works of art later, I finally found a piece of art that I somewhat connected with.

Hi, my name is Lucinda Kollenhoven and I am here to tell all you left brained, logistically programmed, realistic thinkers out there that there is hope for you. There is hope for you to experience a piece of art emotionally and for a moment, perhaps a very brief moment, put aside your analytical tendencies and get wrapped up in the story.

My connection to a piece of art came through a statue by Giambologna, an artist I had never heard of previous to my travels to Florence. The statue depicted a story of the ‘Rape of the Sabines’, the abduction of Sabine women from their neighbours (the Romans). Giambologna’s statue showed an old man defeated by a younger man who grasps a young woman with quite the forceful gesture. The young man’s hands on the woman’s thigh and shoulders were clenched and his muscles were strong.  The characters were positioned in a way that made it impossible to see their expressions from one angle, causing me to walk around the darn thing over 10 times just to be able to examine it.

Now I’ve given you an idea of what the statue looked like, the piece of art that finally made me have an emotional connection, but I cannot describe to you what that connection was. Where did this intrigue come from? I don’t know. Why did I feel curiosity, pain, confusion and joy simultaneously? I don’t know. How do I express these thoughts? Maybe I can’t. Maybe art is so difficult for me to understand because it is its own language and I barely know the basics. Maybe.

My apologies to my fellow left brained folks out there for a lack of conclusion to this story. Keep hoping. Persevere. You too may soon experience the difficulties of expressing yourself after interacting with the language of art.

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