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As the daughter of a Croatian woman who survived the Nazi concentration camps, I am still profoundly influenced by her stories of horror and torture. The hardships and suffering of the people interred were unimaginable; their strength, courage and will to survive heroic. I have always been aware of the horrendous events that can occur when the human rights of an individual or group of people are discarded in order to accommodate a government’s agenda. Knowledge that the human condition frequently embraces injustice and violence, along with my earlier influences has profoundly impacted my art. This cognizance has informed the content of much of my work.
Knowledge of the events that occurred in Canada between 1914 and 1920 drove me to retrieve and preserve segments of individual and collective memory that the government, in its destruction of pertinent documents, tried to make invisible. This unspoken history, already innately ephemeral, is expressed and visible in a four-sectioned polytych painting that measures a total of six feet by sixteen feet. The size acts as a metaphor for the implications of this event in Canadian history.
The painting is comprised of acrylic and mixed-media (paper with drawings, frottage, and/or monotypes) collaged onto the canvas. Artifacts, such as pages from an old World War I book that was printed in 1920 and carefully copied documents and maps, are subtly woven into the painting. These items and images from almost forgotten memory merge to form meaning. Iconic images of the affected cultures provide the framework in which the internments are viewed.
Yesterday's images, containing infinite implied meaning, are manipulated by the artist and audience alike to re-create present personal interpretation of an event that has almost been hidden and forgotten. The scope transcends the limitation of empirical knowledge. The work simultaneously elucidates various times, geographical locations and states of mind. Seductive layers of paint, images, words and color are an open invitation for the viewer to embark on an endless journey to search out clues, whose very nature and circumstances ultimately lead to more questions.
Referencing a desire to remember, preserve, make visible and express, this painting invokes a sense of the journey of people treated with great injustice. The collective memory expressed will produce a sense of a deeper awareness of the human condition, a realization of the heritage of shared humanity. A metaphorical reference to the complexity of existence and the human condition, this piece is visual reminder that achieves more than just recognition or understanding of our heritage. Functioning as a mnemonic site to honour and remember cultures that we as a society treated without compassion or respect, this painting bears witness to the past.