Unfurl and Reach: Lifecycles
“Unfurl and Reach” is a large woodcut made of twenty four 8”x8” pieces. Together they form an overall image of an old chestnut tree that grows in the small village in Switzerland that is my hometown. In the past forty years this tree has stood in front of ‘Les Châtaigners’, an assisted living facility, and brought solace to innumerable families who accompany an elderly parent. That is exactly what it did for me while I spent my days with my mother during the last week of her life.
With hindsight, I understand that my mother played a key role in the inception of my venture “4Art&Adventure: World Peace One Friendship At A Time." On my last day with her, she went in and out of consciousness. Every time she opened her bright blue eyes, she would smile and say “talk, tell me something!” I told her about my burning desire to make a difference in the world; about my passion for making friends everywhere; about inspiring others not to be afraid of the people around the world. Every time she would reopen her eyes, she would ask me the same question, marvel at my same answers and end with her habitual “if anyone can do it, it’s certainly you!” By the end of that day, she had helped me achieve two crucial objectives that had eluded me for two years: the conviction that I was on the right path, and that I possessed the ability to share my vision with others.
A week after I returned to Seattle, I suddenly got it: I would create a gigantic tree split in pieces, each square representing a fragment of the whole; a branch as a component of a tree; an individual as a component of a community. Conceptually, it carried all of the seeds that form the basis of my entire vision. When all the pieces are reunited, the tree, the community, the world is once again whole.
My initial idea was to print the blocks over a map of the motorcycle trip I was about to take, from Switzerland, through Eastern Europe, into Turkey. An important element, for me was to be congruent with my claim that I would go around the world to make friends; as a child of an Armenian Genocide survivor, I felt that I had to start with Turkey and face my lifelong fears and prejudices. I had to make friends with the Turkish people.
Later, as the printing process evolved, in addition to printing these images on a map, I used the blocks to create a large series of abstract, unique prints. This body of work is a visual manifestation of my artistic and philosophical aims and goals.