Artist Portfolio

Audrey Anastasi

Album: Migration 1/12

Album Description
Media coverage of current world-wide mass migration is constant, ubiquitous, and impersonal. The “sound-bites” reporting statistics alone can numb us to the plight of the faceless, anonymous multitudes seeking refuge. So often throughout history, those throngs, perceived as the "other" are rejected, even reviled for their culture, ethnicity, religious beliefs, or geographic origins. Simply put, they are people seen as too different to elicit empathy. It isn't until one comes to know the individual that the commonalities amongst different peoples becomes evident. Art can serve well to remind us of this shared humanity, of people, seemingly, and perhaps literally, worlds apart in their origins, but who are, in fact, individuals like ourselves, who love and laugh, who suffer and cry, who mourn and face adversity, who raise children and work, who help others, and who seek to rebuild. It's heartbreaking to imagine what depth of desperation drives a family to uproot all they know, leave their friends, their neighbors, dispose of all their possessions, abandon their lifelong homes and all that is familiar, to seek for themselves and their loved ones, a fresh life of safety, peace and freedom. These unknown individuals are our grandmas and grandpas, our bubbies, zaides, nonnas, nonnos, abuelas, abuelos, grand-meres, papys, as well as our brothers and sisters. But for the randomness of circumstance, they are truly us: They are you and they are me. My artistic process starts with imagining the physical and psychological discomforts of the mass migration, of the countless strains upon individuals and their families, and then allowing the images to develop instinctively. The series has 180 small paintings, a multiple of the number 18, or “Chai,” a symbol of life. The paint is laid down upon plasticized passport photo "protectors," approximately 5" x 7." This base material has pre-printed text referring to checklist items and documents related to travel preparations, which is ironic, as these are depictions of people who may be fleeing without proper papers, people who officially "belong" nowhere. The slick surface allows for a malleable process, with alternating application and removal of paint. Recognizable forms quickly arise from the initial loose abstraction. Images of water, heavily laden boats, swimming, struggling and drowned humans, tent cities, barbed wire fences, and multitudes of refugees emerge, propelled forward on intuition. While I paint, I am immersed in a colorless world, suggesting the starkness of a black and white newspaper, but also unquestionably wrought with a human hand.

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