(oil over collage background. made from recycled materials)
“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge – myth is more potent than history – dreams are more powerful than facts – hope always triumphs over experience – laughter is the cure for grief – love is stronger than death.”
“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
“What does not kill me makes me stronger.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Yet another portrait I painted from an old photo. This is my grandmother Shura as she looked sometime in the late 1940s. The older I get the more I miss my grandma Shura. I created this portrait of her in an attempt to feel close to her again. I owe so much of who I am to her, and I definitely wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for her.
When my mother left for the States and my father was busy living his own life, my grandmother was the only person to give me a sense of direction. Not in a conventional way. She let me get away with a lot of things she shouldn’t have. I was a wild child. I did as I pleased and believed myself to be a grownup. However, she still saw me as a temporarily motherless child and felt sorry for me. My grandmother managed to teach me how to be strong and how to overcome any obstacles in life. She was an internal optimist, if only a tad bit dramatic.
As a teenager I didn’t know much about my grandmother’s life before my arrival on this Earth. As I became older I learned more details about her past and found new appreciation for the optimism she was able to maintain throughout her life of hardships.
She was one of ten kids and was orphaned as a little girl. She got married for the first time at 16 to a butcher’s son to escape poverty. Got kicked out of Komsomol for wearing lipstick. Lost one of her husbands during Stalinist Great purge and her other alongside her baby during WWII. As an old woman my grandmother had to take care of her completely paralyzed forth husband (my grandfather). Yet I’ve never heard her complain. Nor did she ever asked for pity. Not even when she was dying.
Before she fell into a coma she kept on repeating how much she wanted to live. I would like to believe I have the same thirst for life as her. After all, I’m of her blood and her love of life runs in my veins. That’s her greatest gift to me.
Only few people knew about the adversities my grandmother had the misfortune to experience in her life. Her friends and family remembered her as a strong woman who always tried to help people. The rest primarily remembered her as a very beautiful woman. I was often told that when my grandmother was younger the heads turned whenever she walked down the street. However, the people who turned their heads to sneak a peak at my stunning grandmother were only able to see her beautiful exterior for one moment, while I was given the privilege to see, remember and appreciate the beauty of her soul for all eternity.