Monday, February 7, 2011


Just a quick post to provide a few details of family history + genealogical discoveries + other promising developments. First, pics of the NYC experience... reminiscent of grandma's (not a surprise, since it's her sister, Mary's former place).

The original Boardwalk Empire + Mad Men (+Women)
The awesome part about this trip (not to discount any of the many, many awesome things about it) has been visiting the past via four giant photo albums of cousin John. Many thanks, Great Aunt Mary, (may you rest in peace) for all the wonderful work you did in capturing and maintaining a photo documentary of your family; your progeny are forever grateful.

The above is only 30% of the 100+ scans of full album pages... ie: enough work to keep me busy for several weeks in color correcting, restoring and cropping all these treasures. And... there are still 2 bigger albums that I have yet to scan and several family videos from the 50s that need to be converted to DVD; it's my excuse to go back to NYC later this year again:)

I spent a few hours this morning to color correct some of these pics -- particularly the Dagguerreotype ones of the early 1900s of my great-grandparents marriage and family portraits. This type of early photography is challenging because the silver reflects the light and it makes for scans that have a lot of noise. But, I think I've figured out the right combination of layers and fine tuning to pull out their original glory:

I will be a Photoshop restoring fiend in no time, I'm sure. I'm truly grateful to have design experience to pull upon as I embark on this new career/life endeavor... everything does indeed happen for a reason. It reminds me very much of working on interpretative panels at Bally Design for Rivers of Steel... reference portfolio examples for other awesome old pics.

Eye-opening stories
I don't know why we tend to think of any period in the past as the 'good old days' and that they have been more wholesome and innocent than our present day. It's a earth-shattering, paradigm shifting, mind-blowing experience to realize that no matter what the time-period, for as long as the earth has had people on it, people have always and will always be the same as they are today.

Reminiscing on family history has revealed some really neat and startling discoveries about all the antics of my relatives. It's a story best told for another day -- the basis for one family tree series in Demystifying Depression -- but it includes things like mental illness, bizarre deaths, eccentricities (my creativity, hotheadedness and stubbornness has it's roots in my great-grandparents:), long-lost relatives in East Europe, hardship, tragedy and triumph.

I'm completely aware and reminded during this trip how 100 years later (grandpa was born in 1913), Rebekah (my cousin and co-conspirator) and I are paying homage to our grandparent's legacy by capturing their life stories, their images and their heritage in a project like this Demystifying Depression.

What better place than here? What better time than now? Really... it's amazing how far technology has advanced in the last few years to allow us to broadcast this story, these images and to connect to distant relatives through the miracle of the internet and global community. I'm fully aware that this project and the other publications that I am beginning via OTV are pieces of why I am alive in this place, in this time, for this purpose. Very exciting and humbling at the same time.

The final pieces of the puzzle? Upcoming overseas treks
Two opportunities have serendipitously come across my radar (note: I'm getting pretty good at spelling serendipitously since there have been so many occurrences over the last month:)
  • April 1-15: Teaching Conference in Ukraine
    In the cities of Drohobych and Lviv, we will be training public school teachers with new curriculum called DreamMakers-DreamBreakers about drugs, alcohol abuse and male-female relationships. The cost of the trip ($3790) includes airfare and ground transportation, accommodations and three meals a day in hotels, and all curriculum materials.  Passport required but (thankfully) no visas.

    The double-plus-good part is that those two cities are very close to the Slovakian border; only 2 hours by car/train to Sobrance where my grandfather's parents were from... perfect opportunity to do a little digging post trip.

    Keep an eye out for OTV posts in the upcoming days. I currently do not possess $3800, but that's not in any way going to stop me from participating. I have a plan set into motion to fundraise via Kickstarter and by selling screenprinted posters of OTV publications via Etsy. Work begins as soon as I return from the roadtrip on Thursday. 

    See 2 of the 4 posters that will be screenprinted shortly at AIR (Artist Image Resource). I'm taking pre-orders, hint, hint:)

  • June 6-July 29: Pitt's Russian Summer Language Institute
    (4 weeks Pgh, 4 weeks Moscow)

    I have had my eye on this intensive 8 week program for several years. Now that I am freelancing full-time and that I have a project like 'You, me & the Cold War' underway, I think the time is ripe for me to take advantage of this fantastic program. The 4 weeks in Moscow are the most appealing draw, obviously. Application deadline is March 18th... fingers-crossed that I am eligible for grants and financial aid:)

    See all program details and other East European language offerings of the Slavic Dept at Pitt: 

OTV LTD Part Deux
This road trip has been so fantastic, that I'm already planning future ones out west. Later this year, I plan to visit family in the SW, on the west coast and loop around back through Chi-town for a few weeks in late spring or early fall (whenever Tornado season is not in-season:)

If anyone is in for traveling with or if anyone has a couch that I can crash upon out west, light up the comments below.

Wooo hooo!

No comments:

Post a Comment