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Salzwedel is a bustling town of 20,000 residents. It is charming with cobble stone streets winding between centuries-old stone buildings. A river flows through the city, and there are scarred remnants of the wall which once divided East and West Germany. In the center of town, there is an abandoned four-story building that covers most of a medieval block with soaring ceilings, arching windows, and a clock tower. In the early 20th century, it was a private girl’s school. During World War II, it became a hospital, and for many years thereafter, it became a school for the Young Pioneers, part of The Free German Youth founded within the Soviet occupation zone of Germany. This building is being reclaimed, becoming known at Kunsthaus, an art house that will have both a permant collection, visiting exhibits, and a floor dedicated to artists-in-residence and art courses.

While on residency at Hilmsen, a neighboring village, I invited the residents who support the arts to have their portraits made. Each was asked why art is important to them, how art affects their lives, and which art medium they would like to explore. Some brought their children, some came with their instruments, all came with enthusiasm and excitement to be a part of the project.