During the day, Sgt. Atalya Aufrichter serves as the coordinator between the Israeli Air Force and its reservists. At night and weekends, Atalya is an artist who uses everyday materials to create works of art that decorate her base at Ramat David.
Sgt. Atalya Aufrichter, a soldier in the IAF, discovered a new creative way to recycle. A 2.5 meter-high Mona Lisa made from over 4,100 bottle caps is just one of the dozens of works of art that Sgt. Aufrichter has created. Today, the Mona Lisa adorns the dining hall of the Ramat David Airbase.
Atayla decided to use bottle caps to create the piece because of the look created by the mosaic. “The closer you stand, the more you notice the details but from far away you can see the whole image,” the soldier explained. From afar, the piece appears as one image of the famous painting Mona Lisa, but from close it can be appreciated for its construction from a variety of bottle tops.
Sgt. Aufrichter told us that thanks to her project, the base’s level of recycling has increased a large amount and the soldiers have focused on the process of recycling. “Suddenly those who did not care about recycling have become big recyclers in order to help me,” Atalya said.
Art As a Way of Life
“The base is like my home and that’s why I want to decorate it in the best way possible,” Atlya stated. She is on base more frequently than she is in her own house and only goes home to see her family once every four weekends. During the week, her work is very demanding and she can’t dedicate time to her art.
In the beginning, she spent so much time on base that it was an obstacle for her art because she didn’t have art supplies readily available. During the weekends on base, Sgt. Atalya wanted to take advantage of her free time in order to make works of art, but wasn’t able to due to the lack of materials.
According to Sgt. Aufrichter, this challenge inspired her to create a work of art despite all these challenges. “The biggest contribution to my work from the army is the lack of materials.This forces me to use everyday materials – food, spices, asphalt.” She continued, “the dining room on base it my alternative art studio.”
Food for the Soul
On IDF (Zahal) bases, the Friday night dinner (Shabbat dinner) is a special event with unique food and a festive atmosphere. Atalya started the tradition of creating a decorative piece each week to decorate the table and using her art to teach other soldiers from her base about a historical event or a national value. The following piece was created from recycled materials – ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, spices and rotten vegetables.
A portrait of the famous paratrooper Hannah Szenes, made with salt on a black plate
Hannah Szenes was a Jewish paratrooper and poet who participated in WWII by parachuting into Hungary. She was captured, interrogated, tortured, and executed at the age of 23. Snezes is considered a hero and is very well known, but Sgt. Aufrichter picked her as a subject for her art for a different reason. She clarified, “Hannah Szenes completed the parachuters’ course with the British Special Forces here, at Ramat David Airbase in the summer of 1943.” This is a fact that not many soldiers knew and therefore Atalya decided to use her art not just for decoration, but also to teach her fellow soldiers a little history.
A portrait of Cpt. Tamar Ariel who died in an avalanche in Nepal in September, 2014. The piece is made of tahini, ketchup, mustard, and various spices on a white plate.
Recently, Cpt. Tamar Ariel, the IAF’s first religious female navigator, was killed in an avalanche in Nepal. Sgt. Aufrichter decided to honor Cpt. Ariel during Shabbat dinner. “Almost all of the soldiers here knew Cpt. Ariel because she served on this base and those that didn’t listened to her story and the wonderful person she was. I want to give this space to her; its my dedication to her memory. This is my way of offering my condolences.”
Portraits of the the three kidnapped teens, Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali, done with salt on a black plate.
On June 12, 2014, three Israeli teens were kidnapped by Hamas operatives. The bodies of Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali were found 17 days later after being murdered by the terrorists. The Friday before being found, Sgt. Aufrichter honored the boys in the entrance to the base’s dining hall with the words, “Bring the boys back safely.” Atalya expressed, “This is a different way to appeal for their safe return and keep the three kidnapped boys present in our minds.”
A portrait of Sgt. Eitan Barak, made with spices and salt on a black plate
Sgt. Eitan Barak was the first soldier killed in combat during Operation Protective Edge. Atalya paid homage to him and explained, “Unfortunately, he was not the only one to die [during the operation].”
Sgt. Aufrichter is a truly dedicated soldier who manages to find time both for her army obligations and for herself. But Sgt. Atalya gives more than the average soldier. Her works of art are a true gift to the IDF (Zahal). She continues to inspire the soldiers around her and beautifully decorate her base at Ramat David.