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The Woman Behind the Artist – The Many Lives of Erika Bourguignon

August 17, 2016 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Bourguignon - Woman In The Blue Dress

The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve is proud to announce its program: The Woman Behind the Artist – The Many Lives of Erika Bourguignon a presentation by Irene Shaland.

Bourguignon - Woman In The Blue DressAn internationally-published art and travel writer Irene Shaland invites you to voyage through time and space to uncover the different lives of an extraordinary woman, Erika Bourguignon, the life-long companion of the talented visual artist Paul-Henri Bourguignon. The journey will take us first to Vienna at the beginning of the 20th century where Erika Eichhorn was born to a prosperous Jewish family.  In the Vienna of Erika’s childhood, music and arts were paramount and Viennese Jews played a crucial role in creating and supporting modernism. This was also the world of escalating anti-Semitism from which Erika’s family was lucky to escape to America in 1938 right after the Anschluss.

In the second part of the presentation, we will travel back in history to realms inhabited by ghosts and phantoms, where intense spirituality and shamanistic dance created altered states of consciousness. These worlds were the scientific focus of Erika Bourguignon, a US-educated cultural anthropologist, famous for her studies of “possession of trance” and its role in pre-historic and modern cultures. We will approach this other life of Erika through the haunting symbolic images painted many centuries ago on the rocks of South Africa by a vanished people.

The Woman Behind the Artist is being held in conjunction with the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve’s exhibition, Paul-Henri Bourguignon: Citizen of the World, a showing of the vibrant, globally-minded paintings of Erika’s husband Paul-Henri, the esteemed modernist and long-time Ohio resident. The exhibition runs from July 21st till September 10th and will showcase a variety of works both from the Archives’ permanent collection as well as the artist’s estate. When considered in conjunction with his work, Erika’s various lives offer a unique perspective on her artist-husband as well as the famed intellectual atmosphere within their family.

Irene ShalandIrene Shaland is an avid world traveler and writer. She resides in Lyndhurst, Ohio with her husband travel photographer Alex Shaland. She is the author of two books on the history of theater, drama, and intercultural interpretations as well as a third work, “The Dao of Being Jewish and Other Stories,” which was published in January 2016. Irene’s books will be available for sale before and after the program and the author is willing to sign purchased work following the presentation.

The event is to be held on Wednesday, August 17th from 6:30-8:00 PM. It is free and open to the public, however, participants are requested to register on Eventbrite prior to arrival. Click here to register.



August 17, 2016
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Event Category:


Artists Archives of the Western Reserve
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Artists Archives of the Western Reserve
1834 E. 123rd St.
Cleveland, 44106-1910 United States
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