|We are pleased to introduce www.Flootie.com Artist Ildikó Kalapács. Ildikó Kalapács is a Hungarian American visual artist living in Washington state. Her work is rooted in two cultures (Hungarian and American) and influenced by her travels as a folk dancer and artist. She explores cultural and personal identity through cultural objects, language, human condition, body language, and gender roles to reflect the cultural flux and the cultural resistance to the West in the era of globalization.
As a kid growing up in Hungary I was lucky to “stumble upon” worthy activities and to get involved in exciting art events by chance. I never had a clear drive or a vision in the pre-teenage years where I was headed. I was not precocious, so my beginnings were not smooth sailing. My sister was a budding visual artist and she inspired me to pursue her line of work instead of psychology …
The arts were treasured in my culture, and access to art education as to all education was free. Thus I got into an after-school Hungarian folk dance group in my hometown, Szeged. The truth of the matter is that I was a pudgy 8-year-old, and my mother decided to assign me to a regimen that regularly challenge my cardio-vascular system in order to make me shed some kilos.
I remember the first year of dance lessons was tedious as one had to adjust to a new way of moving and thinking at the same time. Thus I learned how to think on my feet, literally, and also to adjust to others and work well with others. The exciting times came when we learned how to improvise folk dances from different Hungarian-speaking regions. The kilos were shed, and I got addicted to the greatest high one can get: Dancing.
My addiction served me well, it gave me very needed therapy, taking me away from my family troubles by traveling to faraway regions. I discovered the value of multiculturalism and the hidden layers of cultures in folklore. It was a fairly democratic system when in times of peace peasant cultures thrived and “exchanged” ideas. It is just naturally part of the system.
Thus visiting foreign cultures, working with all kinds of dancers and choreographers, studying the natural synergy of cultures taught me the concept of inclusivity and appreciation of others’ cultures, including languages, for a lifetime. Either a participant or an observer, it enriched my life immensely.
Now I apply this to all aspects of my life, especially my art work. With globalization, one’s cultural identity is a forefront issue, and cultural assimilation or integration are everyday facts. Universal body language (derived from my dance experiences) is a great part of this process, and it is also a major aspect of my art.
I include many cultures in my images, often in the form of formal photos of people and/or words or expressions in different languages, giving a place for all and emphasizing how all cultures are in flux to some extent and acceleratedly mingle (http://www.ildiart.com). It is a healthy process because we all realize beyond of our cultural differences that we have much in common in our basic desires and we have similar woes.
This lead me to create the Bearing sculpture which was originally funded by the Puffin Foundation, Inc. (http://www.puffinfoundation.org/). It was the second time the organization helped me to create a smaller bronze piece. The foundation supports artists who are excluded from the main stream and focus on vital social issues of our time.
The piece summarizes some of my life experiences, how we carry on and also help others in the face of the odds, not knowing if there we’ll be a happy ending. I measure myself by the how much humanity is left in me despite many challenges, and if I can turn that into compassion and bring the issue of being humane to others to the forefront in my art. And this is not for self-congratulatory reasons or for boasting: It is turning my frustrations and struggles into positive energy.
With a nudging from a friend, Jennifer Compau, many supporters created a non-profit organization (http://thebearingproject.com/) which would make the life-size version of this piece a reality in Spokane or area. More ambitiously, the long-term goal is to make it an international project, one life-size piece put on each continent and becoming a destination point for those who survived war, either as soldiers or civilians and were helped by women to carry on and to share the burden of a personal fight after the war. Compassion, acknowledging vulnerability and the basic desire of being humane to others might not be an illusion.
Here you can listen to the interview by Taylor Weech of Patricia Arlene Kienholz and Ildikó Kalapács on KYRS Radio, Praxis Radio, Jan, 2013:
The following interview was conducted on KYRS Radio’s “Does the Answer your Question?” show by Michael Reid in September of 2011. His guests are Rachel Dolezal, The Bearing Project‘s PR chair and Ildikó Kalapács, the project’s executive director and visual artist. They discuss the project’s purpose, the sculpture’s background and interpretation. This interview is an outreach to the Spokane, WA and area community to get involved in the project by becoming board members, suggesting site locations, volunteering and recruiting future donors.