Keys To A Home No More
This fall, Maine College of Art launched a statewide of exhibits, lectures, panel discussions and symposia, “Making Migration Visible: Traces, Tracks & Pathways.” As part of that, Peregrine Press members created artist books in response to the growing refugee influx on the Greek island of Lesvos, and its location as a major migratory bird flyway. Our show is titled “IXNOS” which means traces in Greek. It’s running through December 14, 2018 on the 7th floor of the Glickman library at USM.
I made this artist’s book in response to a poem written by Aphrodite Vati Mariola, a resident of the Greek island of Lesvos who helped refugees of war who fled across the sea. The poem recounts the arduous land journey, the perilous crossing, and the relief they felt when they finally arrived and were treated well and cared for. With more arriving every day, the refugees had to move on. One family left their keys behind and the mother said,
“We have no need for them. They are to a home which is no more. Keep them, please. To remember.”
This struck me powerfully—-it was hard to imagine losing not just my keys but my home, my sanctuary, the place I find rest, comfort, family connection. How would it be for you, too, to lose your home forever?
I invited members of Peregrine Press to send me pictures of their house-keys. One is from Lesvos, sent to me by Mary Snell who spent time assisting refugees there, collecting their stories. As I drew and cut the shapes, I realized how unique each key’s cut and profile is, like the individuals who possess them. Similar to a fingerprint or an iris, no two are alike.
The accordion book form lends itself to an experience of journey. It appears to be an ordinary book when the covers are closed, but when it opens, like an accordion that plays full sound when stretched out, the sense of moving across time is seen. The negative shapes of the keys are cut above the turbulence of the sea; the same shapes repeat, in positive, in the paper keys dangling from the closure ties on each cover. I made these ties from scraps of the life rafts that crossed the Aegean Sea, and strung the keys through them. When the book is closed, they encircle it completely.