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The story behind Sea Forms

Home is where the Heart Is.

– Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus, AD 23 – August 25, AD 79)

The “Sea Forms”, an artist book, was my graduation project for the Certificate in Textile Design. I could’ve chosen any topic for that final work. In reality, my bond with the Adriatic sea, formed during my youth, made a sea related theme my only true choice.

It took me several months to design and make the book – you’ll read about it in one of the future posts. I was prepared for the artistic challenges but didn’t expect that the whole process would vigorously stir some deeply buried memories…

Rovinj (Istria, Croatia)Rovinj on the Istrian peninsula, Croatia

In the late 1980s, as a 20-something year old, I left my home country to attend a graduate school in the U.S. My husband was with me and on the same quest. We had never imagined that something could’ve prevented us from going back home after earning our PhDs; a few years away, at the most, and we would head back, we thought. But, then, the civil war started in our homeland and broke the country apart…and we were forced to extend our stay. Eventually, we embraced the U.S. as our new home.

I tried not to think often about that special place far away…only to wake up in the middle of the night on a tears-stained pillow. My growing young family was the center of my world. Still, for several years my heart was split in two, each piece residing on a different continent.

I mostly missed, and still do, my extended family and a few close friends. And I miss the Adriatic sea (“Jadransko more”, as we call it back home), its blueness and smells, and the old little towns along the coast.  I still keep searching for the coastal place in the U.S. that would fill the hole left by the decades away from my sea.

While working on the “Sea Forms” I eventually realized that I was not only creating something new but also grieving for something old: the former Yugoslavia, a country I used to call home that does not exist anymore.  The whole book-making process was at times a heart wrenching journey infused with memories, love, and longing.  My ‘travel’ into the past has ultimately produced a piece of art, a lasting reminder of natural beauty and the strength to survive.

Everybody has a story similar to mine, not necessarily art related. I would like to hear yours!


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