I organized the highly successful Hope and Spirit project, which took place at the Balzekas Museum in 2011-12. This was to mark the 70 year anniversary of the mass deportations from the Baltic republics to Siberia by Stalin, and to commemorate the victims of these atrocities. Four of my blood relatives died during NKVD interrogations, and eight were deported to Siberia.
The primary purpose of this project was to inform the general public of these events and the deaths of 20 million innocent people. If history is forgotten, it will repeat itself. With the recent events in Ukraine, it appears that my concerns were prophetic. History is repeating itself.
It is due to my efforts that over 400 letters and photographs sent from Siberia have been found and saved from oblivion, and the tragic family stories revealed.
The images consist of neuronal profiles, intertwined with my own MRI brain scans, electroencephalograms, and transformations of my own previous art work. It is these extensive, overlapping neuronal networks that encode our memories, which include memories of those who were dear to us.
The images also include portraits of those deported to Siberia, and their hand written letters. Placing the portraits in deeper layers gives them a hazy, ghost-like appearance.
If someone remembers you after you pass, in a sense you are immortal. By using my own neuronal patterns and networks, I am trying to give these individuals a degree of immortality.
Each diptych consists of three layers of printed polycarbonate, back-light by a white LED light in one, and a color-changing LED light system in the other.
This diptych structure corresponds to our own brains, where the left cerebral hemisphere is more analytic, logical, black and white, and the right hemisphere more artistic, creative, colorful.
The three layers of images correspond to our own three levels of awareness: consciousness, sub-consciousness and unconsciousness.
The pieces are either 27 inches or 51 inches in height. They are constructed using poplar wood. Poplar is a hard wood that grows tall and straight. It was the preferred wood for Native American’s dugout canoes. Also, the blossoms of the poplar are similar to lilies. It is called the lily tree. My wife loves her flower gardens, so using the lily tree is in recognition of her support of my art.
The emphasis in the 27 inch pieces were letters written by children deported to Siberia, and their photographs.
All materials used are archival quality. The images are printed with pigmented ink. The electrical light system is UL listed and approved. These pieces were created in 2014 and 2015.
There is an accompanying sequence of prints on paper. In these works, the images are 17 x 13 inches, and the print size is 24 x 20 inches. They are issued in a limited edition of 20 prints. They deal primarily with letters written by children deported to Siberia, and their photographs. These archival quality prints were made in 2015.