Kira Appelman, a Detroit-based artist, was commissioned to create individual graphic books depicting Rebecca Rosen’s grandparents’ life stories.
Every family has a cherished story, sometimes many stories, but over time, memories fade and sometimes storytellers are no longer available. Rebecca Rosen’s parents and grandparents were doing genealogy research and trying to figure out how to document their family stories.
Her father, Marc Rosen, Ph.D., a psychologist, had taken notes from conversations with his in-laws. Janet Halper, 85, about her life, and recorded interviews with Allen Halper, 87. The Halpers live in West Bloomfield.
“Both are great storytellers,” says Rebecca Rosen, 26, a data scientist for a nonprofit organization in New York City, who has been living in Ann Arbor. But written notes and recorded conversations are not a very accessible or permanent record.
Then she thought of Kira Appelman, a Detroit-based artist. “Kira makes beautiful books and is an incredible artist and illustrator. She had been working with storytelling for a Jewish program and had done some art books about notable artists’ and writers’ lives,” Rosen said. So, she commissioned Appelman to create individual graphic books depicting her grandparents’ life stories.
The end result was a digital novel about her grandfather, a retired educator, who also received a physical copy of his digital book. Her grandmother’s story was translated into “more of an art book.” Rosen said.
Since she had not told them of her plans, they were both surprised and delighted to receive their books. “My grandpa cried,” she says.