While wanting to be faithful to the Russian tradition of icon painting, Ludmila Pawlowska seeks a new way of expressing what Matisse (when he discovered icons) termed “luminosity and devotion.” Her own Orthodox faith and cultural heritage (she was born in Kazakhstan and has been influenced by art movements in Sweden, where she lives) shape her exploration. “God is not an idea, and praying is not an exercise to improve our idea of God,” she says. She calls an icon a kind of prayer—“the cultivation of the awareness of God’s actual presence.”
Executive Order 9066, issued in 1942, began a nightmare for 120,000 West Coast Japanese Americans that echoes through the generations. Those deemed of “foreign enemy ancestry” were tagged with ID numbers and put on trains to internment camps. Wendy Maruyama, the daughter of second-generation Japanese Americans, began re-creating the ID tags but soon realized that her project required collaborative effort. She gathered people to replicate tags and share their stories. Church groups, galleries and advocacy organizations participated. The Tag Project is a traveling exhibition centered at the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego. It contains the names and replicated tags from the ten internment camps, plus footlockers, suitcases, barbed wire and photos that offer a visual witness to exile and loss.