The Brookfield Zoo, in Chicago, commissioned me to create an art work that would cover the topics of “environmentalism”, “sustainability”, mixed with “Chicago as a multi-cultural, immigrant community”. Family Homestead, 6 x 20 feet in size, was installed in May, 2012, and continues to be on display. This is an image taken in early December, 2013. The piece has survived the elements much better than the fence itself. (Brookfield Zoo, 8400 W. 31st Str., Brookfield, IL 60513, 708-688-8000).
The Nails in the Wall Art Gallery in Metuchen, NJ, requested that I submit a smaller version of this piece for an exhibit entitled “The Immigration Issue”. This painting on canvas, 30 x 100 inches in size, will be displayed for six months starting in mid January, 2014.
The narrative which accompanies the piece is:
No pesticides. No purchased fertilizers. For 500 years the Plioplys family, generation after generation, cultivated this land using natural, farm-produced materials. Totally agrarian, totally organic. The Plioplys homestead was and is located in Kazlu Ruda, Lithuania.
In the 1940′s, my great-grandfather, both grandfathers and one aunt were killed in cold blood, on this land, by occupying Soviet forces. A few miles away, in the city of Pilviskiai, a scene from the Lithuanian holocaust took place.
The ground is fertile.
To escape these war-atrocities, my parents, with hundreds of thousands of others, fled Europe for the safety of North America, and eventually settled in Chicago.