Sunday, March 29, 2009


Ceija Stojka Exhibition
Mar 31, 2009 - Apr 17, 2009, 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Location: Kathrin Cawein Gallery
Pacific Universtity
2043 College Way
Forest Grove Oregon

A collection of paintings by Ceija Stojka.

Ceija Stojka was born in 1933 as the fifth of six children born to a travelling Lovara Roma "Gypsy" group in Austria. She and her family experienced persecution during the Nazi times, including internment in the Auschwitz, Ravensbrück, and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps. She received little official school training, having been prohibited from attending school during the Nazi times. After the war she entered the second grade when she was already twelve years old. In 1988 the first of three autobiographical books on her experiences during and after the Nazi times appeared, called "Wir leben im Verborgenen: Erinnerungen einer Rom-Zigeunerin" [We Live in Seclusion: Memories of a Romni]. This was one of the first books to appear on Roma in the German-speaking world. In 1989 she began to paint. During the past ten years her works, which include oil and acrylic paintings on canvas, watercolors, and pen-and-ink drawings, have been exhibited in Austria, Germany, England, and Japan. Today she lives in Vienna and continues to paint, write, educate, sing, exhibit her art, and give public readings and performances in schools and at Roma festivals.

Several texts in the exhibit guide the viewer in understanding Ceija Stojka's work and life. First are two poems that she wrote, which depict the trauma that she and other Roma experienced in the Nazi concentration camps and the hope she has for future generations to overcome oppression.

Second are the chronological outlines of Ceija Stojka's life in the context of the Roma in Austria.

Third is a collage of pictures from Ceija Stojka in her apartment in Vienna, Austria, with her artwork and her surroundings.

Fourth are transcriptions of conversations that Ceija Stojka had with Lorely French (Professor of German at Pacific University, Oregon) and Kristen Almgren, Jacob Artz, Jessica Moser, and Maria Walters (students at Pacific University) in January 2009. Ceija Stojka explained each work of art while Professor French and the students organized and photographed the artwork in Ceija Stojka's apartment in Vienna, Austria. Professor Michaela Grobbel (Sonoma State University, California) had already selected most of the paintings in Vienna in the summer of 2008. The conversations were translated into English by Lorely French, Sanja Petricevic (Fulbright German Language Assistant), and students in German 485 at Pacific University in spring 2009: Kristen Almgren, Solène Inceoglu, and Jonathan Mather.

After all the artwork was packed up and carried away from her apartment in Vienna to be shipped to the United States, Ceija Stojka said with tears in her eyes: "I never would have imagined when I was in Auschwitz that my artwork would some day come to America. America has always been for me the main liberator of the concentration camps, and I am grateful and honoured for this opportunity to exhibit my work there."

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