Susan Magee, author of Into the Light

Introduced: October 16 2012


What does a Latvian-born survivor of the Holocaust who expresses in art his memories and feelings …  have in common with an American woman whose journey has taken her from the fast -paced world of policy making in Washington, D.C. to the fields of meditation and healing?

The artist, Kalman Aron, and the author, Susan Beilby Magee, have collaborated on a book published this month entitled Into the Light: The Healing Art of Kalman Aron. Susan Magee talked to IWD about the process of writing the book and how the experience affected her.

Note from IWD: Members of IWD are invited to book events in three cities, where you can meet the author and learn more of the story. Here is the schedule:

Sunday, October 21, 4-6PM – Los Angeles, Museum of Tolerance

Thursday, November 8, 6:30 p.m. – New York, NY -- Museum of Jewish Heritage

Tuesday, November 27, 7:30-8:30 p.m. – Washington, D.C. – Washington National Cathedral, Perry Auditorium

Tuesday, December 4, 12 noon – Washington, D.C. - Library of Congress, African and Middle Eastern Reading Room

Monday, January 28, 2013, 4:30 pm—Washington, D. C.  -- Politics and Prose


The connection between the artist and the author goes back to when Susan was just six years old. Her mother liked the painting style of the artist and asked him to paint her daughter. Many of Kalman’s paintings portray children, but he has also painted portraits of President Ronald Reagan, author Henry Miller, and conductor André Previn. As a child prodigy in Latvia, the man who was then the country’s Prime Minister commissioned Aron at age 13 to paint his portrait and sent him to the Riga Fine Arts Academy.  But in 1941, the Germans invaded Latvia and killed Kalman’s parents.  He was sent to the Riga ghetto and then a series of seven concentration camps over the course of four years. After he survived the camps and the war was over, he resumed his career in art, studying in Vienna and then coming to America.


Kalman Aron and Susan Magee remained in contact, and when he decided to tell his life story, she is the person he asked to write it. She spent many hours interviewing him, his relatives, and other Holocaustsurvivors. She actually traveled to Europe to duplicate the path he had taken from Latvia to the other concentration camps in Latvia, Poland, Germany, and Czechoslovakia. Drawing from her 26 years as a meditation teacher and certified hypnotherapist, Susan brought a particularly keen sense of empathy to his story.


She said, “Some people who had experienced all that Kalman had might never have been able to rise out of despair and bitterness. But you can see in his art a progression from darkness to light – and you can read in his paintings his observations about the nature of humankind, his own humanity and the mystery of life”


Susan see s Kalman’s story and art as having universal application to anyone in need of healing – whether the suffering has been physical or psychological. The book follows a unique format that combines the artist’s own words and art, with a biographical narration and commentary by the author. The book is just what a book should be – beautiful illustrations on paper that are a pleasure to discover and words that are moving and meaningful.


You can learn more about the book at and