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Writings from the Historians

Senada Miljevic

Today we hear from another of our artists, Senada Miljevic, who's original piece for the Art House at Old St. Francis School is shown here. At first glance, it may seem a little darker than McMenamins' usual style, but her artist's statement casts bright light onto these faceless children.

My inspiration for this panel was Grace Connolly and her students at what is today's McMenamins Kennedy School in Portland, OR. She arrived at the school in 1917 and when she retired in 1959, she was one of the school's longest-serving teachers.

Knowing the importance of education, I used lightbulbs to portray the faces of the children, who with their bright and pure minds bring light into the world we live in.

About the Artist
I do not differentiate between my feelings and the ways I transform them into my paintings. Moreover, paintings are constructed from my dreams, or memories from the past. Paintings appear from the depth of my being and different situations from life. I paint an objective reality in the way I experience it - a reality experienced with my being yet shown with my stroke of the brush on the canvas.

Paintings with the headless people are there to ask questions: Do we know what we are doing, are we aware of our actions and the implications these actions will bring; does forgiveness still exist, or did we leave it only for the deities? Do we have right to suspect, or to accuse someone when we alone are not without the sin? To forgive and to advance, or to stay imprisoned in unforgiveness. Do we then realize that we are stripped of ability to understand worthiness? Do the borders of bad and good exist and where are they? Where are the lines, which can be reached, and those that are forbidden?

In my paintings, man and nature are alike and painted with the same colors, although I believe man, with his actions, has estranged himself from nature. 

I come to the finished composition in which drawing is connected to the color, color with the form, and form with the composition.

I was born in Shkoder, Albania, and earned a BFA degree from the Art Academy at Cetinje, Montenegro. I was awarded scholarships while in Montenegro and have exhibited my artwork at galleries in Kotor, Montenegro; Belgrade, Serbia; Shkoder, Albania and Portland, Oregon, where I live and work.

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Our goal is to keep the past in the present, to celebrate and connect us all with the people and events that have helped define each McMenamins property. To that end, we research, interview and compile materials to identify and commemorate our properties and their surroundings.

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