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Una Mjurka, an associate professor of art and ceramics at Fresno State, will show her most recent work at the Corridor 2122 gallery (2122 Mono St.) in downtown Fresno. Her exhibition of sculptural ceramics titled “In Absentia” will open during the Oct. 6 ArtHop (reception from 5-8 p.m.) and remain on display through Oct. 23.

Mjurka is the 2015-16 recipient of the Provost’s Award in Faculty Service. She will present a lecture on “Ceramics and Community: Building Connections Through Art” as part of the Provost Award Lecture Series at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 12, in Room 2206 of the Henry Madden Library.

mjurka-portraitHere is what Mjurka has to say about her body of work on display at Corricor 2122:

The initial ideas for my most recent exhibit were conceived during sabbatical travels to my birth country of Latvia. During this time I conducted research that directly or indirectly informed the underlying theme of this installation. The resulting artwork was also influenced by the psychological aspects experienced through the course of my migration to the U.S. 

Furthermore, the work touches upon the effects of globalization on individuals and nations alike. It reflects the inevitable transformations observed within the environment, landscape, traditions, material culture, and demography affecting everyone on a very personal level as well as in a broader context.

I am one of an estimated 500,000 former residents of Latvia who have left the country within the last 20 years, since regaining of the independence from the U.S.S.R. The 2011 Latvian census found less than 2 million people currently living in the country.

At present, it is estimated that 30,000 residents of Latvia depart the country annually. This exodus is driven by various factors, including the search for financial security, professional fulfillment, and pursuit of educational opportunities. Periodic informal polls conducted by the Latvian media have reflected that those individuals who have resided outside of Latvia for longer than two years are highly unlikely to ever return to the country permanently. Unintentionally, I have become a statistic.

As an immigrant, I have experienced the effects, both positive and negative, of globalization on a very personal level. While relocation to the U.S. has rewarded me with invaluable professional opportunities, my national identity has been compromised through the deficit of immediate cultural community.

My sentiments are not all that unique. Throughout history the processes of cultural assimilation of immigrant groups can be observed over and over again. However, while large nations have an ability to preserve their cultural heritage through their strength in numbers within their diaspora, the smaller ones face an inevitable cultural extinction.