Lorraine Kalassa

Artist Catalogue

Virtual Exhibition


An immigrant’s journey is generally one filled with many challenges alongside personal struggles. Along my journey to a now relatively comfortable life were definitely such times. For the most part, my work is motivated by feelings of otherness and trying to make sense of home in my country of birth which often does not feel like home. There has always been a longing to return to my country of origin, however, this home I am longing for and have conjured up in daydreams is most probably not what exists today. It is possible that I am directed by the pain of nostalgia brought about by photographs and stories of my mother’s upbringing. (Re)turning to these two sources have become important sites of exploration and excavation- the foundations for my orientation of place-making. My body of work (re-) is about memories, seasons of life and passages of time. It is about birth, life, death, and the complexities of trying to locate myself within my inherited history. The prefix re- means: to do something again, to do something in a different way and to go back to the way something was. Ultimately, my work is about (re)mediation and trying to find solace amongst fragmentia.

With a focus on materiality, I work with avocado seeds as a medium that speaks to themes related to my ongoing interactions with my family photo archive. (Re-) encompasses a range of works from paintings and resin-filled seed mementos that (re)call photographs from my mother’s archive. To framed weavings and a series of prints which are abstractions of my inquiries. Finally, there is a table of avocado ink experiments and a digital installation, reckoning my process of making with (re)surfaced fragments. By dedicating myself to avocado seeds, I channel the pain of nostalgia into the (re)telling of stories through poetic transcriptions that carry the ability to oscillate between the optimism of nostalgia and reality. It is a way of (re)asserting my connection with the world (real or imaginary), intermingling personal accounts with abstractions, with a purpose of inspiring connections rather than analysis. Embarking upon this journey with avocados has strangely expanded my sense of place of belonging, teaching me valuable lessons further expanding my identity landscape with more realms to explore. Working with the seeds in particular has been like finding a poem that was lost; as Holmes and Leggo (2020:202) said: “Poetry is alchemy—a deep reflective process that explores how we live in various places. It allows us to acknowledge and embrace some of the messiness of life, finding hope and allowing surrender to what we cannot control. Surrendering, we are not giving up but participating in stories that stretch beyond imagination, abilities, and spiritual reserves arriving at a place of acceptance, while living honestly with truth, patience, courage, and care. We write in the cracks and spaces of living in attempts to find our place telling our truths critically and creatively”. Poetry is indeed alchemy, and I found alchemy in the avocado pear.