More Life in a Time Without Boundaries
Colombik Studios: Roger Colombik and Jerolyn Bahm-Colombik
April 19 - August 13, 2016
Artists Roger Colombik & Jerolyn Bahm-Colombik, in collaboration with International Rescue Committee of Abilene, created an installation featuring photography, sculpture and oral history dialogues personalizing the experiences of people from around the globe who are currently making their home in Abilene, Texas. A site-specific visual environment created in the first floor gallery incorporates the personal narratives of recent emigres from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bhutan, Iraq and Cuba to create a positive, public dialogue about community, similar to the artists’ previous projects in Armenia, Republic of Georgia and Romania. Roger Colombik teaches sculpture at Texas State University in San Marcos and he and Jerolyn continue to draw inspiration from personal experiences and investigations into divergent cultures. The Colombik Studios are located in the Texas Hill Country but their artwork creates connections around the world.
The small child appears to be enjoying his ride through the supermarket from his perch on the shopping cart. With an orange in each hand he conducts a secret orchestra with a clash of symbols and wildly flaying legs. Mother and grandmother fill the basket and remove the very bruised fruit from his hands. The adults are conversing in a language whose sounds are unlike anything one is accustomed to hearing in a West Texas HEB. When asked about their language the mother’s response doesn’t register; she senses our confusion and quickly follows with “Congo”. Congo? Great restraint is required to prevent us from bombarding her with a host of questions, first and foremost, “What are you doing in Abilene, TX?” Polite decorum wins out with a simple salutation and a wave of farewell to the conductor. A project for Abilene is launched and the grace of a brief encounter inspires our imagination and creativity.
Exactly how the family in the grocery store arrived in Abilene was explained during our first meeting with Susanna Lubanga, director of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) Abilene office. Beginning in 2004, many hundreds of refugees and asylees have resettled in Abilene. The majority of people arrive from Democratic Republic of Congo, Bhutan, Iraq and Cuba, discovering a welcome and safe environment to rebuild their lives. At the invitation of The Grace Museum curator and in collaboration with Mrs. Lubanga and the IRC, Colombik Studios has initiated an Abilene project that will be exhibited at The Grace Museum during the summer of 2016 as a component of the Texas Triangle Exhibition Series.
When five-year-old Elysee Mukashema enthusiastically shouts the word house when asked about the best aspect of his new life, we are reminded of the many, many families in crisis around the world. The IRC and the Abilene community reaffirm the fundamental principles of human dignity and kindness towards one another. Our research explores the distinct social and cultural dynamics that these new Abilenians are having upon the community. They have much to share and contribute. An installation of photography, sculpture, and oral history dialogues form the foundation of the exhibition.
- Roger Colombik & Jerolyn Bahm-Colombik
This summer The Grace Museum will present three FINDNG HOME exhibitions curated to examine the ways in which artists have explored issues of identity and memory in the context of home. Home is a place laden with emotion and memory, and is inextricably tied to a sense of identity. Artists Roger Colombik & Jerolyn Bahm-Colombik’s site-specific installation will address the current dynamics of establishing a new home in a foreign land. A photography exhibition will examine the conscience and complexly of photographing strangers in their homeland. Real and imaged views of people at home and at work will be explored through the artwork selected for a group exhibition curated to rediscover the journey of coming home.