Posts Tagged ‘survival’

Interpreting the Silence

Posted on: July 17th, 2019 by jmbroekman No Comments
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What We KEep

Save the date: Thursday, September 12, 2019

My solo exhibition, Interpreting the Silence, opens September 12, 2019 at the Maine Jewish Museum in Portland, Maine.

I will be showing one-of-a-kind artists books, and mixed media paintings that explore my family’s survival of the Holocaust, their immigration to the United States, and the effects of this legacy on my life. Though neither of my parents was willing to talk about their wartime experiences, that period in their lives obviously left a lasting imprint –– not only on who they became, but also on the children they raised. Who were my parents? Who might they have been had the war not interrupted their lives? This past winter I found myself trying to unravel some of the threads of their history.

The Work

Using facsimiles of writing, photos, and other ephemera, I created a matrix of original monoprints. Prints which were then torn, folded, and bound in myriad ways. The books are meditative –– not your typical turn-one-page-at-a-time kind of books. They are sculptural objects that serve as containers in which to hold these stories. Rather than being specifically illustrative, they are evocative of the journeys we take from one moment to the next.

This body of work also reflects a broader theme that I have been investigating for decades — how each of us is shaped not only by our own experiences and the memories we hold, but also by the experiences and memories of our ancestors.  I am interested in how these narratives are passed from one generation to the next –– not always in obvious, but often significant, ways. Examining these individual formative stories is certainly as relevant today as ever given current mass human migrations across the planet.

Initially the plan for this exhibition was to tell my family’s stories of surviving the Holocaust. That idea, however, evolved into an exploration of the intersection between past and present, and the unintended consequences of keeping secrets. Making these books and paintings cracked a Pandora’s vase spilling out more questions than answers. Perhaps I will always be trying to interpret the silences of my childhood.

Photo Album