Leo DeLuca is a three-time All Ohio Excellence in Journalism award winner, the co-author of Dayton’s Spirit of Community Service and Leadership, and a WYSO Radio Community Voices scholarship recipient. Leo interviewed Estrellita Karsh for WYSO in conjunction with the Dayton Art Institute’s “American Portraits” exhibition. As well as telling the compelling story behind the 1941 portrait of Winston Churchill that truly launched Karsh’s career, Estrellita speaks to how Karsh’s own history informed his work, leading to such intimate and honest photographs.
“My husband was in the Armenian massacres,” says Estrellita Karsh. “He had no childhood. They had to leave their house, open the door, and walk out. And that was it. That’s how they left. Along the way his sister died of starvation. His mother, she gave him a tin cup and a tin spoon, and she said: ‘Don’t let anybody eat from this. This is all I can do for you, my son.’”
It was enough. Karsh arrived in Canada in 1925 where he lived with his photographer uncle, George Nakash, who inspired him to take photos. On December 30, 1941, age 32, his life was forever changed when Winston Churchill visited Ottawa.