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Trumbull artist extracts the inner life of stone

By Cindy Mindell

TRUMBULL – Sara Aldouby has been transforming stone into works of art for 41 years. The Hungarian-born, Israeli-raised former IDF captain creates sculptures of stone and bronze in her home studio overlooking a lake – “heaven on earth,” she calls it – since 1986.

Aldouby, who lives in Trumbull, will discuss her work on Sunday, Jan. 31 at Temple Sinai in Stamford.

Aldouby was born in 1938 in Hajdúnánás, Hungary, northeast of Budapest. In addition to two ghettos and three labor camps, she survived Theresienstadt with her mother and eight siblings, while her father survived Bergen-Belsen. The family was reunited after the war and settled in an abandoned village near Rechovot, Israel.

Aldouby served in the IDF from 1957 to 1964, attaining the rank of Captain before she left to pursue studies in movement therapy at the Kibbutzim College (Seminar HaKibbutzim). After marrying Israeli-American Leeam Aldouby in 1969, the couple spent three years in the U.S. to be near Leeam’s mother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer. After completing a course in movement therapy at New York Medical College, she had the first of their four children. In 1972, the family returned to Israel and settled in Tzfat, where Leeam was appointed the first pharmacy director of the Rebecca Ziv Medical Center. He later started his own pharmacy in nearby Tiberias.

While raising her children, Aldouby began taking art classes in the local artists’ colony. “I loved the land of Israel, I like the desert, I collected shells and stones and everything that led me to creating art,” she says. “I was brought up in an Orthodox home and went to religious schools, so the themes of the Bible were always very strong for me. Later, as a mother, as a wife, I came to understand the power of women in the Bible,” subjects that she would later explore in her sculptures.

Aldouby studied sketching with Vienna-trained painter Sala Russota, who encouraged her to cast the small ceramic figurines that she had begun to create. Aldouby went on to study drawing with Yitzhak Frenkel and Alexander Bogen, and participated in summer sculpture seminars in the Tzfat Artists’ Colony. In 1975, Aldouby first discovered the art of stone-carving at Beit Hagefen in Haifa, where she began taking classes, later continuing her studies in Carrara and Pietra Santa, Italy. Aldouby’s sculpture of the angel Gabriel, crafted from Pakistani green onyx, sits in the Yad Shitrit Cultural Center in Tiberias.

The family returned to the U.S. in 1986 and lived in Stratford for a few years before moving to Trumbull, where Aldouby and her husband, retired from pharmacy work and now a singer-songwriter, live and work. “When we were leaving Israel, I thought, ‘What am I going to miss the most? Stones!’” Aldouby recalls. “For weeks, my husband and I were wandering around Israel, looking for stones to bring here,” and procuring a supply from Hebron and Tiberias that would find its way into many future sculptural works.

In addition to teaching Hebrew school in the Greater Bridgeport area, Aldouby studied painting and printmaking at the Silvermine Arts Center in New Canaan and woodcut and monotype at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Norwalk. She has exhibited at the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport and the Stamford Museum and Nature Center. She is a graduate of the New York Medical College in Psychomotor Therapy.

Aldouby’s works are included in many private collections in the U.S., Israel, England, Hungary, Canada, Austria, and South America. Her commissioned sculptures include several Holocaust memorials – at the former JCC of Eastern Fairfield County (now the new Jewish Senior Services campus in Bridgeport), the Virginia War Museum in Newport News, Va., and the Jewish Museum in Budapest, Hungary – as well as Tree of Life sculptures of Jerusalem olive wood and bronze at Congregation B’nai Israel in Bridgeport and Temple Beth Sholom in Hamden, and a bronze at Congregation Shir Hadash in Los Gatos, Calif. Her nine-foot sculpture, “Wings of Peace,” stands on the shores of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. Her sculptures also grace the Trumbull Library and the Jewish Historical Society of Fairfield County Library at the Stamford JCC.

When she designs a Holocaust memorial, “the process is crazy, very painful, very difficult,” she says. “It takes out your soul. I do it because, afterwards, it feels good and I know it’s going to a good place. It’s important to have these pieces in educational settings.”

A longtime member of the Society of Connecticut Sculptors and Silvermine Guild of Artists, Aldouby has been teaching art, sculpture, and stone-carving for 27 years.

“It’s not a hobby, it’s not a profession, it’s not a luxury – it becomes a way of life,” she says. “It’s a combination between your hand, your heart, and your mind. And you have to be so strong, so flexible, because the stone is stronger than you.”

“It’s a Fine Line” with artist Sara Aldouby: Sunday, Jan. 31, 1 PM, Temple Sinai, 458 Lakeside Drive, Stamford | Info: Jewish Historical Society of Fairfield County, (203) 321-1373, ext. 150. For information: info@jhsfc-ct.org

CAP: Sara Aldouby’s Holocaust sculpture “The Hope” stands at the Virginia War Museum in Newport News. The museum commissioned the work after seeing Aldouby’s sculpture of the same design at what was then the JCC of Eastern Fairfield County.

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