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Exhibit commemorates Armenian Genocide and Jewish Holocaust with works of two survivor artists

Samuel Bak’s “Yiakor Theme.”

KITTERY, Maine — Haley Farm Gallery will open “Survival Through Creativity” exhibit featuring works by Berj Kailian and Samuel Bak — two survivor artists of the Armenian Genocide and Jewish Holocaust respectively. The exhibit commemorates the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and the 60th anniversary of the Jewish Holocaust.

Opening receptions are Saturday, March 19, and Sunday, March 20, 2005, 3-5 p.m. at Haley Farm Gallery, 178 Haley Rd., Kittery, Maine

“Survival Through Creativity” reflects the artists’ creative outlook toward life having endured, witnessed and survived the atrocities of the 1915 Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks and the WWII Jewish Holocaust by Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Works of Samuel Bak are available in cooperation with the artist and Pucker Gallery.

Berj Kailian, myth and symbol series.

Berj Kailian was born in Armenia in 1914. Her extended family was one of the last to be driven out. Her father, imprisoned and tortured was later asked to dig his own grave and was buried alive by the Turkish authorities. Only nine months old, Kailian was wrapped and tied to her mother’s back and along with her three siblings began the forced marches through Armenia. Through the arduous trip her siblings were lost and are presumed dead. Kailian was wrapped in old newspapers to be kept warm; she was given away three times but returned to her mother to remain a survivor as they reached Yerevan, present-day Armenia’s capital. Kailian’s mother worked for the Armenian Red Cross and they lived with other wretched refugees in devastating conditions until 1919 when they were sent funds by an uncle in the to travel to America via Russia and Japan. Berj Kailian now lives in Weymouth, Massachusetts and is perhaps the only Armenian-American woman artist survivor of the Armenian Genocide.

“I carry the memories with me every single day of my life. But you have to survive and you just have to accept that dark companion that is with you everywhere you go. Art was a natural selection because I could express a great deal of thought and emotion through it in my own way. I’m still doing it; maybe it’s an escape,” says Berj Kailian. “I use earth pigments…everything comes from the earth. I tear, I dig, I use sand and earth, or gravel. I think that’s the hurt…but I can’t go beyond that. I’ve been fortunate. I’m a survivor. A slice of bread given to me by my mother was to be shared….and is to this day representative of nature and love for humans.”

Samuel Bak was born in 1933 in Vilna, Poland and was recognized from an early age as possessing extraordinary artistic talent.

As Vilna came under German occupation in 1940, Bak and his family were forced into the Vilna ghetto, and later to a labor camp, from which he was smuggled and given refuge in a monastery.

At the end of the war, his mother and he were the only surviving members of his extensive family. Bak, has spent his life dealing with the artistic expression of the destruction and dehumanization which make up his childhood memories.

He speaks about what are deemed to be the unspeakable atrocities of the Holocaust. He has created a visual language to remind the world of its most desperate moments.

“I feel the necessity to remember and take it upon myself to bear witness to the things that happened in those times, so that human beings today and those of tomorrow, if it were only possible, are spared a similar destiny on earth. So I have chosen the way of creating images of a seeming reality, imbuing them with a multitude of layers, from clear and unknown symbols to the most private and intimate feelings of a world that has its own apparent logic. I hope that the complexity of these paintings might go beyond my private story and beyond the vicissitudes that mark the Jewish people and their fate.” says Samuel Bak.

Haley Farm Gallery — Mainely Global Art Gallery, Gift Shop and Meeting Place – opened in January of 2005 and offers works by local, national and international artists, unique artistic gift items, and a meeting place. The gallery owners are Jackie Abramian and Harout DerSimonian.

Haley Farm Gallery is located at 178 Haley Road in Kittery, Maine. Gallery Hours for March and April, 2005 are: Monday-Wednesday, 10 a.m.- 3 p.m., Thursday & Friday, 2 p.m. – 6 p.m., with Saturday and Sundays by chance. For further information or to schedule a group visit, contact the gallery at (207) 439-2669, or email to haleygallery@comcast.net, or visit www.haleygallery.com.

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