Daniela Shapiro got an “A” on her senior project in high school. She got her teachers’ and classmates’ praise.
Normal stuff for a successful school assignment.
She also got a phone call from Michael Bloomberg.
After Shapiro finished creating “The Stories of Survivors,” a graphic novel in which she told, and illustrated, the stories of six Holocaust survivors (and of her class trip to concentration camps in Poland), her father, Stanley, had the 24-page booklet published and disseminated among a group of educators and opinion leaders — including the former mayor of New York, who called to laud and discuss her work.
“Words aren’t my strong suit,” said Shapiro, but her images touched readers.
The graphic novel, sold at a few Holocaust museums and on Amazon.com, is on the recommended reading list of New Jersey’s Department of Education.
Shapiro, a native of West Orange, N.J., who is entering her senior year at the University of Rochester (3.85 grade-point average), is a largely self-taught artist. She called Art Spiegelman, Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of the “Maus” graphic novel about his Holocaust survivor parents, an early influencer of her artwork.
She attended the Golda Och Academy (now the Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union), in West Orange, choosing a Shoah-themed art project because she has an artistic bent and grew up hearing the survival story of her late, Polish-born great-aunt who had been interned at Auschwitz. “I remember her number tattooed on her arm,” she said. Her relative’s experiences are among those that Shapiro included in her graphic novel.
Shapiro, who has visited Israel four times, is active in the Chabad-affiliated Sinai Scholars fellowship program at her university.
She’s interested in a career as an ethicist. But, she said, “art will always be part of my life.”
Renaissance woman : A philosophy major, Shapiro has spent time studying comedy improv, taking part in Pan-African dancing, tutoring children in reading, practicing photography and conducting legal research for an environmental regulation clinic in Israel. “Their common element,” she said, is “creativity and a human connection.”