Escape Tactics

Six-year-old Nelly Toll and her mother went into hiding when Nazi soldiers occupied Lwow, Poland, in 1941. "I was very confused, and I just remember my mother being panicked," Toll says. Finding shelter with a Christian family, Toll learned to escape her paralyzing fear of the Holocaust by painting. Through her paper-made fantasies, Toll went to kindergarten, played games with school friends and took walks with her father. The 64 watercolor pieces she crafted will be on display in Imagining a Better World at the Massillon Museum March 8 through May 18. Although she wasn't thinking it at the time, the portrait of the young girl (left) Toll painted during those dark years resembles herself. "When I look back on it, I probably thought I would just put two bows in her hair, but my mother always put two bows in my hair," says Toll, "so there must have been a subconscious connection that I was painting a better story for myself."

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