Hilde Vogel-Michalik, 1918–1999

Excerpts from These Are My Songs, a collection of memoirs, poetry, and art selected by Hilde’s sister, Friedel Michalik, and her husband, Harold C. Vogel, 2002.

Hilde was a truly creative person, whose rich legacy endures in her poetry, writings, and paintings, as well as in the lives of those with whom she shared her joy in life. She could express herself not only in words and pictures, but she also had a good musical ear and a very good voice, which she used with subtle effect. Her mind was marked by intelligent curiosity, and she could rise to any challenge. Her love of nature was known to all, including those who earned a rebuke from her for infringing upon the environment.

We were fortunate to live on enough land so that nature was just outside the door. Yet, because of large windows, it was part of the interior as well. She could see the groundhog, the deer, the fox, the pheasant, wild turkey and squirrels, and many birds from the dinner table, which ended up being her favorite work station. She would stand in front of it with a full view of the meadows and woods and work for hours and hours, often forgetting to eat.

We both grew up with an understanding of the labor and study that is required to become an artist. Today it is not always appreciated that dedication to art means an endless pursuit of the craft before one can hope to capture the inspiration. Isaac Stern put it very well when, in his humility, he described himself as a “fiddler,” in other words, a person constantly at work on the skills necessary to express what the creative mind might yield. Looking back to artists in history, one sees that they expected to serve years of apprenticeship before they could call themselves artists. Like them, Hilde never ceased to work at improving her craft. It is evident in her continual search for materials and tools that would enhance her power to project her vision. One day it would be rice paper, another the back of a box, a new kind of wax pencil or the brush of a calligrapher. Her greatest reward was a well-done picture; and the next day would bring new challenges. –Harold Vogel

A lot of Hilde’s works are the result of playing with colors and forms. You can paint what is before your eyes and what you see with your inner eye. When you blink with your eyes or change the perspective you see different things. You can read “out” of pictures or you can read something “into” them. –Friedel Michalik