Displacement: In Memoriam

An artwork in two parts, an ocean between.

The first installation was part of the 7th International Conference of Contemporary Cast Iron Art , in Pedvale, Latvia, June, 2014. Anna Shapiro, Margaret Coleman, and Justine Johnson collaborated to incorporate history, process and ritual in a participatory work in the women’s balcony of a former synagogue in Sabile, Latvia.

The second exhibition consisted of six panels, incorporating imagery and forms derived from the initial exhibition. The assemblages mark a memory, a place, an event with a great distance between. The second installation recalls what happened before, and before again, connecting people, place and action, providing closure and healing. 

Installation,  Sabile Jewish Synagogue Contemporary Art and Heritage Site , Sabile, Latvia, 2014.


A collaborative participatory installation and ritual.

In June, 2014, as part of the 7th International Conference of Contemporary Cast Iron Art, artists Anna Shapiro, Margaret Coleman, and Justine Johnson will realize an exhibition of process, participation and ritual in the women’s balcony of the local synagogue in Sabile, Latvia.

            The synagogue is a place of historical cultural significance as well as tragedy. It represents a community of 241 Jewish people, which served as a gymnasium during the communist era, and is now a cultural space. The exhibition is a reflection on displacement and loss, allowing viewers to participate  in renewal, connection and transformation. The connectedness of the past, present and future is a rhizome running through time. The synagogue, the mass grave in the forest, connect though traditions of textiles, cast iron, and fire, are the cause and effect of this journey, in this place.  The plurality of elements from the installation will be carried into the midsummer night of Janis to the Pedvale Open Air Museum and will ritually transformed through fire into one ceremonial marker to be left at a site in the forest.

            “During my stay in Latvia in 2013 I was inspired to create work addressing a painful history of occupation, displacement and loss.  I sought to create a new vision and ritual for myself and for others about gathering, healing and renewal.  In this installation memories and dreams are woven into methods of making, materials are transformed by hand, in slow pace. As folklore and history move forward, transforming history into relevancy, people gather together in community and ritual.  In the end we materializie the presence of absence and leave a small trace - a cast iron stone left as a memory. 

            –Anna Shapiro


            “We work with our hands, a culmination of simple gestures, we travel far to do it, and it carries our intention with it from the beginning. As this installation has begun to author itself, it takes on a life of its own. Our collaboration develops and expands over time. Many hands processed the fibers in our backyards.  We dried them. They travel with me to Latvia, where we will rehydrate them in the central river in Sabile  As we pull sheets of the fiber and cast it onto stones, 241 of them, these cast paper sculptures symbolize a journey, dedication, fragility, intention.   -Margaret Coleman


   “I place thread infused in iron, changing colour, drying in the wild flowered woods. Ritual of    sewing, 241 cotton strips in various lengths , each strip I make = one life I remember , we    remember, never to forget the darkest side of human nature. One,two,three stitches,knot , next.    and    again and again.Total stitches 723. In my garden, I hear the sound of school children. There is hope.

       –Justine Johnson

3 small prayer shawls made by artist Aimee Hertog

On site assistance: Adam KC McGee Abe

To our friends and family and artists in conversation from around the world, we thank you for your support


We invite you to join our procession, carrying the paper stones up the road to Pedvale for a ceremony of transformation and release. We will place all of the paper stones on the red heat and the final stone will be of iron, to remain in the forest on the site of the memorial.

Photo triptych, crocheted stones, twigs, twine, wood, paint. 1 of 6 panels. 2015.

Photo triptych, crocheted stones, twigs, twine, wood, paint. 1 of 6 panels. 2015.


Maine Jewish Museum, Portland Maine, 2015

A six panel installation, incorporating imagery derived from the process and exhibition, Pārvietošana: Displacement, Latvia in June 2014.  The notion of “In Memoriam” for this exhibit recalls what has happened before, in a recent or distant past, reflecting on a moment in time, a memory, connecting people and places, providing closure and healing. 

             Each crocheted “stone” represents an individual person. The 241 stones commemorate the congregation of the synagogue in Sabile, Latvia. This small number is part of an exponential number of people from many locations around the world who have been displaced, lost and killed by genocide.

            Why Stones? The crocheted stones are unique, marking a lost presence. Traditionally stones are laid on Jewish graves for symbolic and superstitious reasons. Stones are suited to symbolizing the permanence of memory. A stone left on a grave indicates that the person is not forgotten. A stone is a mark of respect by the living. Its presence ensures that the gravesite is visible (especially for those buried in unmarked graves.)

            The numerology:  In this exhibit, each crocheted stone marks one person. Each panel has 40 stones. The 241st stone is cast in bronze and will remain to mark the exhibit.  Each image on the six panels is separated into three parts. Three parts, six panels is eighteen, the number for life (chai) in the Jewish tradition. This collection of images and objects feels to me like the Kabalistic notion of "tikkun olam" bringing the fragmented world back together again, making it whole...the 241, the 3, the 6, the 18 and the one that remains.

Photo triptych, crocheted stones, twigs, twine, wood, paint. 2 of 6 panels. 2015.

Photo triptych, crocheted stones, twigs, twine, wood, paint. 2 of 6 panels. 2015.


Beth Israel, Bangor, Maine, 2015

Six panel exhibition in the community space and sanctuary.