Mouthful of Silence

Through the lens of my family’s history and personal experience I am examining ideas of home, exile and cultural belonging. Particularly, I am interested in the 20th century history of the Soviet Jewish Diaspora and the residual psychological affects that the continuous ethnic repressions and the Holocaust had on the generations of Russian Jews who survived these events. I attempt to recover and piece together what remains of a lost and scattered culture, one shaped by internal values as much as by the passage of time, extermination, war, and finally assimilation.

Mouthful of Silence” draws upon objects from my childhood, as well as the photographs from my family’s collection, and the historical archives of the Soviet government. The people portrayed are literally erased and disfigured. Their identities lost, destroyed or altered by the trauma.

My aim is to present an unsentimental surface treatment. By combining drawing and painting with materials such as salt, ash, and gold, I aim to transform the images from mere nostalgic artifacts to containers of cultural memory. Ash could be seen as alluding to destruction as well as rebirth; salt as something that preserves; gold reinforces the ideas of permanence and preciousness. Making the work for me is a process of discovery. The process provides me with the opportunity to not only reexamine the past, but to identify my place in history, and the cultures that I inhabit.