ONE HOUSE

On November 3, the One House project opened in Touchstone Gallery in Washington, DC, spearheaded by the indefatigable Ellyn Weiss and Jackie Hoysted. "The overriding principle of One House is the vision for a country where we are united as one rather than divided; the (220 contributing) artists aim to universalize this message by bringing it to a very personal level". All artists expressed the experience of being an immigrant, either themselves or their ancestors. I contributed a panel with the following description:

2017 panel for One House.jpg

 

 I am an immigrant from a family of immigrants. My family is now from the Netherlands, but once they were from Ireland and before that from England and before that from Germany by way of France. An Irish ancestor, who was a slave shipper, shipwrecked on the Dutch islands and established the Dutch branch of my family, which soon established businesses in the colonial Dutch East Indies, and produced sugar, rubber, coffee and tea. Immigrants thrive.

 

I too had that urge to escape and leave tiny, grey and rainy Holland behind me. Its an urge that settles into a family’s genes.  I met an American with similar peripatetic genes: the grandson of a Ukrainian refugee from the Russian pogroms and the son of a refugee from Nazi-overwhelmed Vienna, with Polish and Russian blood. We are a restless couple, trekking from the USA to the Netherlands and back, then to France and to South Africa, for some 17 years combined. Our daughter was born in Paris and has the same restlessness in her heart and genes. After 16 years in the USA and a combined absence from Holland of 32 years, I remain an expatriate in both the country of my birth and my adopted country, while at the same time feeling deep connections with the countries where I lived. Recently I have become grateful for that state of being: I may not really belong anywhere, but I can live and feel at home wherever I want and wherever I’m wanted. I am in America now, the United States of America.