An Exhibition of Multi-Media Photocollage Tapestries representing the Architecture and Artistic Culture of Central and Eastern European Cities

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Haverford College. Department of Fine Arts
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I base my work on an idea of organized chaos. I make collages that are not meant to be a portrait of each city (as that would imply my power to give cities totalizing definitions), but rather, of my experience of examining the streets and buildings of each city. I make these collages by combining printed photographs I took during my time abroad, drawings on sheets of clear acetate, jewel-like embellishments, embroidery, and fabric scraps on textile backgrounds. I focus on both historical architectural patterns and everyday urbanism. My work explores the patterns that emerge from the unique, built environment of each city, shaped by complex histories and altered each day by the gestures, actions, and footsteps of that city’s people. I spent the 2018 spring semester at Corvinus University in Budapest. I traveled to Hungary so I could explore the cities and cultural identities of Central and Eastern Europe. My father’s roots lay in Belarus and Lithuania, and my mother’s parents immigrated as refugees from Romania. Between the decades spent behind the Iron Curtain and the relative lack of communication with the Americas, most people around the world have little more than a murky idea of these nations’ shadowy past. Many people view Eastern Europe as a place that offers little to the modern world. While tourism has exploded in Prague and steadily rises in Budapest, cities like Sofia, Bulgaria, and Ljubljana, Slovenia, remain unknown. During my time abroad, I went to some better-known cities (such as Berlin and Prague), but I also travelled to Pécs, Hungary; Ljubljana, Slovenia; Zagreb, Croatia; Mohács, Hungary; Cluj-Napoca, Romania; and Sofia, Bulgaria. While at my home base in Budapest, I wandered every neighborhood of the expansive city and learned about the city’s war-torn and controversial past. With each new city I went to, I spent hours wandering the streets and photographing architectural details unique to that place. I photographed thousands of of details that caught my eye, from cathedrals to graffiti, lampposts to coffee cups. My attention always shifted to something new, whether it was a public art performance or a leafy vine wrapped around a slightly bent piece of wrought iron. I then “organized” the details of these cities—not to simplify their identities and stories, but to draw attention to the elements that exemplify their organic architectures and the history that has shaped each of them. As someone with Eastern European heritage, I wanted to learn more about these places and their vibrant cultures, which diverge from those in Western Europe. While these countries have endured decades under various oppressive regimes, bloody wars, and continued corruption by the ruling parties, they have continued traditions of innovative and distinct artistic and architectural styles. Through exploring ornament, architecture, and craft, these tapestries begin to peel back the veil that shrouds the beauty of these cities.