Devorah Neumark, a Montreal-based interdisciplinary artist, gained the insights into the experience and value of conscious home-making for refugee and displaced people, by living the experience herself.
A fire, deliberately set in 1996, destroyed the home she shared with her children, then 6 and 3, and all the belongings and mementos she had ever valued.
Six months after the traumatic experience, Devorah Neumark returned to the street in front of that home, to create “a space of dialogue” she says. The encounters with people on the street were memorable: one passerby shared with her the notion that “you can’t heal faster than time allows you to.”
A means to re-connect
The insights she gained in that six-hour session have informed her work with displaced people since, and are the basis of much of her body of work. Neumark values the healing power of repetitive gestures and simple choices in beautification. She says “aesthetics are basic”.
As she told Carmel Kilkenny, getting deeper into her work, elicited stories of suffering and escape from her own parents, she’d never heard before.
Now she wants to see these practices and insights incorporated into the welcome Canada gives to people arriving through the traumatic transition of forced displacement and refugee avenues. Devorah Neumark knows the healing is in the deliberate home-making and the story-telling.