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Naomi Barak
Brooklyn, NY
Neighborhood: Williamsburg

ARTIST STATEMENT: I believe true comfort is family. I have always surrounded myself with family and when I too far from loud, bustling dinners or it's too late for chatty phone calls then their images serve as a substitutes. My family passed down to me a multi-layered culture. It is a nomadic culture that I embrace however with each generation reestablishing life in a new country, I wonder what I can call myself. I sense my parents' nostalgia on Sunday phone calls to Israel. I often feel homesick for a place that I do not call home. The religion in part seems like an extension of culture. It is a way to share traditions, the history of ancestors, morals, food, song and stories. As a child, when I asked what my name meant the only way English translation my parents could find was "warmth and comfort". Names, like homes, are what we make them, but somehow I sense my name has fit from the start. Initially painting portraits of my family members enabled me to reassemble memories. With these acts of mapping out patterns, layering and building up strokes of paint, I have gotten a chance to mediate on my roots and discover my place in all of it. As an artist I continue to discover who I am and as a teacher I assist my students in doing the same for themselves. Teaching in an East New York public school has given me a chance to meet students from diverse backgrounds. On any given day one can walk into my classroom and find a high school student painting a piece about their experience leaving family in Ecuador for a new and strange American life or another student designing a building for their community. I haven't failed to learn something new each of day of the last four years that I have been teaching art and I hope that will continue.

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