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Roslyn Goldofsky and Bella Sztul

Roslyn Goldofsky and Bella Sztul are fraternal twins, originally from Poland. They were 12 years old when the Nazis occupied Warsaw, where they were separated and went into hiding. “Their mother found two homes for them,” Kassan says. “One was with a poor German family. The other was with a Catholic family, so she had to learn the ins and outs of the Catholic Church—she had to follow the rituals in order to stay in hiding.”

After about two years, the sisters reunited. They narrowly escaped being put in a camp, fled to safety and eventually came to America. Sztul worked in real estate, and Goldofsky worked as an interior designer and paralegal. Today they both have apartments in the same building in Queens. (Roslyn is also the ex-wife of Sam Goldofsky, pages 42-43.)

Kassan spent two sessions posing and photographing the sisters. He had a few ideas for poses, none of which quite worked, “so it came back to having people do what’s natural to them,” he says. “When they were just acting naturally with each other, things were a lot easier.” The painting shows them with linked arms, seemingly forming a united front.

“They’re really strong people,” says Kassan, “and I wanted that strength to come through in the painting.”

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