Yvonne Gajewski


Mark; 30″ x 30″ Photography



Lidia; 30″x 30″; Photography


Born and educated in Poland, I settled in Chicago decades ago. For the exiled person, transformation of identity is a never-ending process. If that person happens to be an artist, the affliction of displacement -with its legal issues, sense of not belonging, deprivation of points of reference (topographical and historical), hostility, moments of excitement followed by disappointments, constant feeling of perplexity -reflects clearly in my art.

The current project in progress, National Identity: Polish, American, or Citizen of the World? investigates the past, present, and future of Polish refugees who involuntarily resettled to the United States between 1970 and 1989. Along with a photographic image comes an individual life story, collected in either written or audio form. This body of work is particularly close to my heart mainly for its humanitarian significance, but also because I am an émigré myself. What really fascinates me, is the human spirit of the individuals presented, with all its complicity and multiplicity of hue, its heroism and fragility.

This new undertaking is in accord with my previous work. An earlier piece entitled Semite/Aryan explores an entanglement of Jews and Poles that is represented in the form of an expanded Star of David made of copper and brass with transferred photographs. My other series entitled Fantasia alla polacca emerged from magnificent stories circulating within my family, which I recorded in digitally manipulated photographs and verses. Yet, they are not strictly biographies; they are my own interpretations and visions. Perhaps the only truth about portrayed persons is the mood these pictures and lyrics depict. Associated with an epic poem, another series – Variations on the Self-Theme – derived from time spent in meditation on life predicaments.