Wednesday, February 27, 2019

I Am American 
opening reception March 8th 5-7pm

My ceramic installation "Gathering" as well as my two large scale paintings, "Origin I" and "Origin II" are part of the current "I Am American" exhibition, on view at the Freeport Art Museum, in Freeport, Illinois.

At the opening reception, with curator Sergio Gomez, in front of my Origin watercolors

Talking about my ceramic installation Gathering with the museum director Jessica Modica and board member Aaron Mercier
Talking about the exhibition and our work (left to right): Freeport Museum's Director of Education Barry Treu, artists; Ana Zanic, Pia Cruzalegui, Cesar Conde and Saul Aguirre.
Cesar Conde, Pia Cruzalegui and Barry Treu

"I Am American" presents multiple perspectives on immigration and ethnicity. Using a variety of styles, each work provides a wide-angled view into the bi-cultural experience. Participating artists are first, second, or third generation immigrants. Others can trace their heritage back to the Native American Indians. This exhibition about the American experience provides ample room for conversation and personal interpretation and explores what it truly means to be “American”.

In a special program on Saturday, March 16th from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, multi-media artist Pia Cruzalegui will document Freeport’s American Story through a special photo shoot open to the entire community. During the photo shoot, the artist will ask each family to share a story of their heritage in an informal setting. The artist will later produce a short film capturing the highlights of the stories. 

“Gathering” is a collection of small vessels, incised with spontaneous marks and abstract drawings. They are made as contemplative and intimate objects, to be held in the palm of a hand, and are deeply connected with my childhood. All of them were created after I moved to the United States, over a course of several years. I am still creating these and adding them to the ever-growing collection, so the pieces here exhibited make only a part of a larger group.

The city where I was born, Vinkovci, in Croatia, is rich with archeological findings. Many of these are ceramic vessels from the Vučedol culture, one that resided there from 3000-2200 BC.
In Vinkovci, down the street from our house, an old potter had his shop, and his entire front yard was covered with masterful and simple vessels. I remember, as a child, often watching him work, and procuring some clay to play with.
My everyday exposure to these various ceramic objects – the ones I had seen in the local museum, as well as the ones in the potter’s shop from down the street, created in me an awareness of the different cultures living there continuously, through centuries and even millennia, deeply connected with the land and soil.

After moving to the United States, sixteen years ago, these childhood memories started becoming more vivid, and a sense of broken connection replaced the old feeling of belonging. For me, the act of creating these small vessels, very primal and intimate, as well as the process of their accumulation, evokes my childhood and reflects an underlying search for reconstitution of what is familiar and comforting.

“Origin I, Origin II”
Watercolor on Fabriano watercolor paper, 95”x55”

These large-scale watercolor pieces are part of a series of paintings, all titled “Origin”.
My abstract watercolors, often reminiscent of imaginary landscapes, are built with layers of washes with an emphasis on the mark making. Through abstract form, I am investigating my own questions of memories, origin, and past.

The two pieces here embody an ambiguity of contemporary and ancient. There is a sense of attraction to the old and archaic, and at the same time an inevitable necessity for an expression that is contemporary and current to our time.

In these dreamed out landscapes, a gap between the lost/forgotten and newly created is suspended within the fine balance.

Friday, February 01, 2019


It has been a seriously cold polar vortex week here in the Chicago area. My family has been couped inside the house, just gazing out the window at the serene and beautiful crisp snowy whiteness, the blue skies, the frost inside our window panes. There is a true beauty in this serene and still, quiet cold.
It brought back sad memories though, of two years ago, when at this same time I visited my home in Croatia twice within a week. I remember it was bitterly cold there. It was, in fact, colder there then it was at that time in Chicago. 
Two years ago on this day, my dear dad passed away. I miss him bitterly, as this cold is bitter.
But I can't shake off the light. So crisp and making everything so clear.
Here is some new work I made lately. Sad and happy at the same time.
 Flutter, 22"x30" 
  Flutter, 22"x30"
 Flutter, 22"x30"
 Origin Cloud, 30"x41"
  Origin Cloud, 30"x41"
  Origin Cloud, 30"x41"
                                                                             Origin Cloud, 30"x41"