The Ernst and Margo Harris Hammerschlag Story

Margo Harris Hammerschlag Award for Sculpture

FullSizeRenderThe red crayon was in the first set of crayons by Crayola introduces in 1903.

I wore my red boots in celebration, as I tell this story at the National Association of Women Artists luncheon in NY, where I received the Margo Harris Hammerschlag award.

Ernst and Margo Hammerschlag would be proud to know their passions, talents and legacies continue in a style that persists to make the world a better place.  They continue to change the lives of others through those they have touch with their generous gifts. My friend, Dr. David Waldman and myself, are two of these lives. Dr Ernst, a psychiatrist, and Margo Harris Hammerschlag, a supporter of the arts  would be pleased to know that the Margo Harris Hammerschlag for sculpture was rewarded  to me, Karla Leopold, a member of the National Association of Women Artists. My career as a psychotherapist/art therapist and artist has been devoted to using art as a tool to heal and bring attention to issues involving mental health, women, nature and children.

IMG_55883When I received the call for submission to the Margo Harris Hammerschlag award for direct craving, I was reluctant to present my sculptures.  With the encouragement of my biggest fan, my husband, and a dear friend and art supporter, Diane Waldman, I submitted ten of my stone carved sculptures.

When I opened the letter with the announcement stating I was the winner of the Margo Harris Hammerschlag award at our local post office, I broke into tears of surprise and happiness. Later that week, the Waldmans joined us for dinner to celebrate.  I was curious about the Hammerschlags so I did some research.  I shared what I found at dinner. The Hammerschlags had resided in New York.  Margo was a long time board member of N.A.W.A. and her husband, Ernst, was a Manhattan psychiatrist. He had immigrated from Austria where he practiced as a doctor treating patients including Sigmund Freud.  Diane’s parents had also emigrated from Vienna to New York so I asked if they might have been peers of her parents.

Dr. David Waldman’s jaw dropped and asked: “Dr. Ernst Hammerschlag on 74th Street?” Pronouncing Hammerschlag correctly as I had been pronouncing it wrong. I replied “yes, that is the same man”.

He went on to explained how this man with an Austrian accent, he recognized as the same accent as the as his wife’s family, had changed his life.  David was a brilliant young man flunking out of medical school.  He had gotten by to this point in life on his brains and by doing very little work.  Someone suggested he talk to a man on 74thstreet. David thought he was going up to this apartment to chat with a very wise man. Through their “chatting” Dr. Hammerschlag was able to get David understand that if he was to succeed in life, he would have to learn to work. He told him to begin by learning how to study.  For the last 42 years Dr. David Waldman has gone on to be a leading allergist/immunologist at Eisenhower Medical Center.  It was only later that he realized he was engaged in psychotherapy and Dr. Ernst Hammerschlag had changed his life.

Margo Harris Hammerschlags has changed my life. This award has validated my art and hard work. As an artist, I sometimes question my work. When I do this now, I tell myself to remember “I am a Margo Harris Hammerschlag award winning artist”. That means a lot.  I was given $5,000.00 to prove it. I know I am doing exactly what I am meant to do.

The Hammerschlags have touched and changed the lives of David and myself. Their legacy lives on as we pass it forward and continue to touch the lives of others, David through his medical practice and me through my art.  I do believe the Hammerschlags would be proud.

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