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I like to collect shiny things.

I like to collect shiny things. My home is filled with heaps of buttons, candy wrappers, pieces of broken glass, lost marbles and discarded jewelry. I pick up bits of gleaming objects from sidewalks, second hand stores, piles of trash, and friends. In the same way I collect objects, I collect images. Sometimes they’re pictures of things I can’t take home, like flowers, graffiti, potholes, and buildings. I amplify the saturation and contrast of these pictures not in order to perfectly represent how they originally looked, but instead how they felt. I spend time with every photographed object, carefully tracing its outline, either with a Photoshop selection tool or with my scissors. Following that is the puzzle of combining these images, drawings, and embellishments into a multi-layered brocade which both constructs and breaks repeating patterns.

My family is from Romania, Lithuania, and Belarus. Eastern European craft traditions are essential to me as an individual and as an artist. The tedium of inking thousands of lines in an ornamental pattern or cutting out a crystal chandelier with an x-acto knife is not a barrier, but rather, a meditative action that is inseparable from my process. Ornament is more than a tradition: it’s another mode of communication, parallel to spoken language. The act of hand-drawing ornamental designs is how I regain focus while speaking through cognitive disability. My language delays, attention difficulties, and math inabilities, while once tribulations, have shaped my work, and are as intertwined with my identity as is my cultural heritage.

My constantly shifting attention means that I notice parts of the city that most people don’t. I often wander alone, finding myself in strange new worlds, and later coming back to tell their stories through collage. I find and transpose patterns, whether they are found ornamental designs or those that I generate based on the distinct geometry of my surroundings. These are patterns of built environments that either feature or hide cultural heritage in specific moments in time - whether it’s a St. Patrick’s Day procession slowly marching up a hill in Lisbon, or a stenciled parade of penguins descending into an urban, graffiti-filled cavern in Zagreb.

These collages are more self portraits, however, than they are portraits of the places I’ve been. I do not attempt to create totalizing pictures of places and cultures. Rather, they are windows to my field of vision at a place in time, and the beauty I felt while walking there.