BFA Exhibit for Marie Teemant - Eesti: Tales from Estonia

Cultures of every kind thrive on stories: fairytales, fables, myths—stories from the Bible or the Koran—stories that teach us history, and stories that teach about good and evil. From movies to books to magazine articles, we are fed stories: true and false, fact and fiction. While some may be questioned, they are all part of what continues to perpetuate our identity—in society as a whole and on a personal level.

The best stories in this world are those closest to us. From a young age, my family heard many stories about our paternal grandparents. Mihkel and Aino Teemant—we knew them as Vanaisa and Vanaema—lead unique lives. Both were born in Estonia, married in that small country, and had their first two children before leaving everything behind to escape the Soviet regime, which took over mere hours after their departure.

As refugees in Sweden, immigrants to the United States, and lifelong learners, their lives are a cornucopia of stories just begging to be told. Mihkel passed away January 1994 and Aino in July of 2002. Since that time I have noticed a decline in how often we hear their stories. It was as a result of this that I began my project.

This summer I did something I had ached to do for as long as I can remember: return to Estonia and see this country I heard so much about for myself. What’s more, I decided to revive these stories in my own way for a new generation who will only know Vanaema and Vanaisa through what we share with them. As the facts have already been written for us, utilizing photography was the approach I could bring that might be unique to what already exists in recording their lives. Each photograph in this exhibit represents either a time in their lives or a lesson I have learned through their experiences. To support the images I have included both a quote from the autobiographies they left as well as my own reflections.

Regarding family members, I hope you remember Mihkel and Aino for the extraordinary lives they lead, along with the values they passed along to us. For anyone else who views this exhibit, perhaps you will learn something from these particular stories, but more importantly I hope you will see value in your own personal narratives and perhaps find some inspiration to keep those most important stories alive in your own lives.

You can view more of Marie's photography at her website:

This exhibit will be at the Rotunda Gallery in the Orem City Center from Oct 1-31, 2012