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I recently returned from the Ukraine, where I found my maternal grandfather's native village. The trip brought to mind how many artists base their works on home, place and memory.
Shortly before my trip, I heard the magnificant St Louis Chamber Chorus perform a concert entitled, "Home Thoughts From Abroad" at Christ Church Cathedral. Philip Barnes, the artistic director and conductor, has been on a sabbatical in his native England. In reference to the program he writes, "While I have spent much of the year away from St. Louis, thoughts have frequently returned to the Chamber Chorus, its members and friends. Home is clearly a flexible concept, and one can feel a home in different places, surroundings and circumstances. Similarly, abroad can be interpreted on more than one level, from the purely topographical to the metaphorical, when we find ourselves adrift or isolated from that which is known, and perhaps comfortable.
An article called, "A Sense of Place: Three Artists" appeared on an internet site called Studio International. It begins by saying, "An artist's relationship with a particular place is a constant in art; Cezanne's paintings of Mont St. Victoire, which established a great precedent in modern art, are among the most significant. The concept of the artist as traveler and diarist also belongs to a long tradition." The article describes three artists in an exhibition as being linked by a relationship to place, but also by the way in which the place comes to represent a plethora of images alluding to memory and to their own perceptions and observations.
Bunny Burson, a renowned visual artist and her songwriting daughter, Clare recently made a journey to Germany where Bunny's grandparents lived, to Riga, Latvia where they fled, and then to Rumbula Forest, ten kilometers outside of Riga,where they were killed. They found historical records, newly discovered letters from them and as Bunny says, "They are no longer ghosts, but loving parents, brave and bold role models, and very human grandparents." Clare’s music and Bunny’s visual art give their departed family members life and legacy to fill the void.
Another well known visual artist from St Louis, Carol Crouppen, now living in Colorado, says that her works are often about going home and there is a strong question as to what is true or false in her memory. She refers to her works as a touchstone, both personal and ancestral.
Home is where the heart is and sometimes it takes some searching of heart and soul to decide just where that is - here, there, and sometimes everywhere.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Arts Aficionado Nancy Kranzberg has been involved in the arts community for some thirty years. She serves on numerous arts affiliated boards, including The St. Louis Art Museum, Laumeier Sculpture Park where she is the Co-Chair, The Sheldon Arts Foundation and the Sheldon Art Gallery Board, Jazz at the Bistro, The Missouri Mansion Preservation Inc., The Mid American Arts Alliance, and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. Nancy was named Women of Achievement and was awarded the Distinguished Alumnae Award at Washington University Nancy is a docent at the St. Louis Art Museum and is an honorary docent at Laumeier Sculpture Park. At age 60 she became a Jazz singer. She performs with the Second Half which features Chancellor Tom George on the piano.