Organized trip with the Jewish Community Center in Krakow, which helps those fleeing war

A mixed media artwork on canvas titled “Taxim in Istanbul” by Durango artist Suzanne Horwich. She traveled to Krakow, Poland on May 22 to share her artistic experience with Ukrainian refugees in the hope of “uplifting their spirit and energy.” (Courtesy of Suzanne Horwich)

An artist from Durango traveled to Krakow, Poland, at the end of the month to help refugees fleeing the war between Ukraine and Russia by teaching visual arts in hopes of inspiring people and empowering them. help them heal from their traumas.

Suzanne Horwich, who has spent the past two years in Durango, is a mother, educator and abstract artist, as well as a producer and photographer. She said her goal was to help refugees “imagine, create and heal” through art classes. She also plans to facilitate a large-scale installation piece in which she will invite others to contribute.

“I really recognize the power of imagination and the healing properties that come with imagination,” she said. “You create a lot of hope. When you talk about art, you are really talking about beauty.

Horwich arranged his trip with the Jewish Community Center in Krakow. She said the center fed or supplied 300 to 500 refugees daily and had served around 60,000 refugees in the past 10 weeks.

The center went from being a grassroots Jewish community center to a humanitarian aid center “overnight,” she said. It provides medicine, food, clothing, housing, and child care, in addition to supporting LGBTQ groups and women’s groups.

A mixed media artwork on canvas by Durango artist Suzanne Horwich titled “Hamam”. She traveled to Krakow, Poland to invite refugees to practice art with her, the supplies for which she will purchase for them. (Courtesy of Suzanne Horwich)

Horwich said she wanted to “elevate the spirit and elevate the energy” of refugees by creating art with refugees of all ages. She brings an art kit with her and plans to buy more supplies to provide the refugees with their own portable art kits. She withdrew money from her 401(k) to fund her travels, she said.

Horwich lived and worked as an artist in Istanbul, Turkey; Scotland; Israel; the Caribbean; and Colorado, but she never went to Poland.

“It’s a little nerve wracking because I don’t know exactly what I’m walking through because I’m sure there’s a lot of trauma going on,” she said.

She loves working with artists together on campus and that’s the kind of vibe she wants to provide for refugees.

“I love everyone’s freedom to work together, without pressure,” she said. “And I have taught that in the past. So that’s what I’m going to do. »

Horwich said his first trip, which is expected to last seven days, is really just his “pilot trip”.

“I’m very aware that with a great possibility, I’m going to have to change what I think,” she said.

She is ready to reassess her vision and program, refine it, and come back with a refined idea of ​​how to help refugees in Krakow.

“But the theme running through it all is ‘imagine, create, heal,'” she said. “Any way I can help make this happen, I’m going to figure it out.”

A mixed media on canvas by Durango artist Suzanne Horwich titled “Kadikoy”. She said her goal is to help refugees from the Ukraine-Russia war “imagine, create and heal” through art classes and a large-scale installation she is planning, with an invitation to all refugees who wish to participate in the creation of the work. She traveled to Poland on May 22. (Courtesy of Suzanne Horwich)

Horwich partnered with the Jewish Community Center of Aspen to open an art gallery in 2014. When looking for ways to bring her artistic experience to refugees in Poland, she made good progress with the Jewish Community Center from Krakow.

She pitched her idea to the center about three weeks ago and the same day received an enthusiastic response, she said.

“I introduced it, and within 24 hours this organization said we already offer trauma therapy and we think what you want to do would fit so well,” she said.

Horwich said she was trying to set up a fundraiser, but it was going so fast that she was still trying to set up her website for it.

After her week-long trip to Poland, Horwich plans to return to her two daughters, ages 10 and 14, in Durango and think about how she will approach her next trip, she said. She has also scheduled two keynotes for July and September, where she wants to raise awareness about the refugee situation in Poland, talk about the humanitarian efforts of the Jewish Community Center in Krakow, and share her own efforts to contribute to this humanitarian aid.

Horwich said she had a daily mantra. She wonders every morning how she intends to “live happily” that day. Every night before going to bed, she wonders how to live with more joy the next day.

She said she knew it sounded a bit cheesy but she used it.

“I strongly believe that the energy you put behind everything dictates the outcome,” she said. “Now I know there are exceptions. But I’m a big believer in people’s points of view, in people’s attitudes, in people’s energy, and that’s how I got here.

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