So It Goes by Brenda Pokorny


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This series of four free-standing stelae, or grave markers, is a memorial to the thousands of victims who have, in the last decade, been assassinated due to their religious beliefs and/or cultures.  Specifically, these pieces represent Kurds, Yezidis, Coptic Christians of Egypt, and Syrians, all of whom have been, and continue to be persecuted as a result of intolerance and ignorance. 

 

Each culture has a rich heritage with thousands of years of history, including unique iconography and folklore.  In creating these stelae, I have attempted to honor these cultures respectfully, and beautifully.  Other than the colorful accents on the Syrian stone, I have purposely kept the color palette neutral, as if these pieces were carved from marble or limestone.





The motifs I have chosen to decorate the fronts, backs, and sides of the stelae are derived from ancient carvings and tiles, religious monuments, and traditional weaving and tapestry work.  Most have cultural significance, such as the snake on the front of the Yezidi stone.  In their oral history, Yezidis tell the story of a snake using its body to stopper a hole in Noah's Ark, saving the ship, and all the animal species, from sinking.  The reverse side of the Yezidi stone depicts Tawus Melek, the prominent peacock angel figure in Yezidi religion.  



The iconography I have used on the Kurdish stone also comes from thousands of years of oral history.  Faravahar, depicted as a winged older man holding a ring, represents wisdom, power and good fortune.  On the reverse side of my Kurdish stone, I have borrowed from ancient wall carvings which illustrate the myth of Faravahar, or Farr, where a person who has strayed has lost his Farr to a falcon who hides it at the bottom of a lake for safekeeping.  My design shows water below round, pearl-like symbols of Farr dormant, kept safe in the water, then rising from the waters and blooming into lotus plants.  




A serene angel is portrayed on the front of the Coptic stele, symbolizing martyrs who have faced death with unflinching faith.  The reverse of this stele contains traditional Coptic symbols, as well as palm trees along the Nile River.


And finally, the Syrian stele uses traditional tile motifs in gorgeous blues and turquoises, as if the front face of this stone were a mihrab in a mosque.  The reverse of this stone is also inspired by traditional tile – this motif being a vase of flowers, again in the authentic colors.  





The title of my piece, So It Goes, refers to Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five.  Every time a death occurs in the book, the narrator says, “so it goes.”  It could be interpreted as life being meaningless, or cheap, and death inescapable.  I prefer to think of it as an acknowledgement of each life -- an “amen” to recognize each life.  The concept of this mosaic piece.



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