In the third exhibit of a three-part art exhibition at the American Jewish Museum at the Squirrel Hill Jewish Community Center, entitled “Love/ Fences/Nests,” Anna Divinsky’s “Nests” exhibit is currently on display.
While the full exhibit won’t be up until the artist’s reception and lecture Thursday, June 4, there is still plenty to see.
“ ‘Nests’ is an exhibition that examines people’s perceptions of immigration and migration,” Divinsky said. “The exhibit examines the idea of home, to leave one place and leave a community and to come to a new place, build a home and enter a new community.”
Divinsky herself emigrated from Kiev, Ukraine, in 1993 at the age of 12 and grew up in Squirrel Hill. She wanted to create an exhibit that could let others who had similar experiences share them with the community.
“I wanted to reminisce about my experience here in America and collect stories and learn how immigration has impacted peoples lives,” she said. “Things that one person holds important might be different from what another person thinks is important from their experience.”
The JCC helped her family adjust to life here in America, and she hopes she can bring new resources to the JCC and help bring those with similar experiences together.
Divinsky is currently working with three different groups of students — all different ages — in creating artwork for the exhibit. She is also working on her own installations that will be on display starting June 4.
“The exhibit speaks to different ages and asks them to think about how immigration or migration affects them,” she said. “Do they have relatives from other countries? What stories do they have?”
Her youngest students are anywhere between the ages of 7 to 10. They are working with their families and trying to find out if any of their relatives immigrated to the United States. They are also looking at migration and talking about their experiences if they have ever moved not only from country to country, but state to state or even within a state.
The second group Divinsky is working with is comprised of students from the University of Pittsburgh. They are currently working on a large-scale installation that explores the idea of home.
“Even though it’s a place you use to live, when you move, it doesn’t mean you lose your home,” Divinsky said. “Your home and family come with you.”
Divinsky’s oldest students are those in the AgeWell program at the JCC. These senior citizens are working with Divinsky on their own experiences of immigration, or looking even deeper into their own family history.
Their portion of the exhibit is in two parts. They are first stitching into silk their feelings and their experiences about immigration.
“I thought they could relate to that medium, because many of them have mended clothes,” Divinsky said. “It’s a medium I thought they’d feel comfortable with. I encourage them to share their experiences.”
For the second part of their exhibit, Divinsky has created a short form for the students to fill out about their experiences. She will combine all the forms together to better understand different people’s experiences with immigration.
“So far we have a number of people who have completed the form,” Divinsky said. “It’s really interesting to read them and see what people said about their experience.”
The big installation that Divinsky is working on is a 3-D silk sculpture that represents her experiences about immigration, before and after her family’s move.
On a white canvas, she has put pre-colored silk hairs in a circular shape that represent her different feelings and experiences. Each color represents when each experience occurred.
“Pink and grey represent my old memories before I moved here (America),” she said. “The red ones represent memories that I’ve gained since I’ve moved here.”
Divinsky believes that her exhibit has accomplished its goal.
“We created a sense of community, and that was the goal of the project.”
“Nests” runs through June 30 at the American Jewish Museum at the Squirrel Hill JCC.
(Mike Zoller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)