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Work Samples

“Ode to America, the Beautiful” & “Ode to Joy” (Poetry Reading)

Artist Gigi McKendric does a reading of two original poems: “Ode to America, the Beautiful” & “Ode to Life” (2021)

J'Accuse - Northern Ireland

J'Accuse - Northern Ireland: This large scale installation series combines Sculpture, Painting, Lights, & Sound. Aside from The Holocaust work, each was made at the time the events and tragedies occurred, from 1952 (Holocaust) - 1995 (South Africa).

A Living Memorial Park at Naharayim Seven Girls One Dream For The World

"A Living Memorial Park At Naharayim Seven Girls One Dream For The World" conceptually began shortly after the March 13, 1997 tragedy when a bus full of schoolgirls from Beit Shemesh, Israel went on an excursion to Naharayim, Jordan. Seven of the girls were shot and killed by a single Jordanian soldier. This project was conceived as a park that would link Israel and Jordan, with no border and no soldiers, offering the children the environment to play together and learn respect for each other.

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About Gigi

Baltimore City

Gigi McKendric's picture
An experimental artist with European, Canadian and American background, I try to understand the constantly changing world around me, for as the world changes it demands new evaluation, and from this metamorphosis, I create new works. Yesterday, a sculpture...today an installation...tomorrow a performance art event. Dance movement, music, video, poetry, life masks coalesce in symbiotic relationship. Using these diverse means, I express "The Human Condition". SELECTED EXHIBITIONS: The National... more

A Living Memorial Park At Naharayim: Conflict & Resolution, Part 1 (Memorial Park Concept)

"A Living Memorial Park At Naharayim Seven Girls One Dream For The World" conceptually began shortly after the March 13, 1997 tragedy when a bus full of schoolgirls from Beit Shemesh, Israel went on an excursion to Naharayim, Jordan. Seven of the girls were shot and killed by a single Jordanian soldier opposed to peace.

This project was conceived as a park that would link Israel and Jordan, with no border and no soldiers, offering the children the environment to play together and learn respect for each other.

An additional component to the park will be a Children's Eye Clinic. The health of their eyes leads children to learn, read, draw, and create their own world as they see it. If perceived with healthy eyes it can benefit the child throughout their entire life leading to growth physically and intellectually. It can bring them to the realization of being part of the greater human family. Walking through the park enjoying the blossoming of flowers, the colors of the sky, the trees swaying in the delicate breeze, and the flying birds. These are the primary encounters from which we go on developing out other senses. Two ophthalmologists and a child psychologist have committed themselves to this project.

I am currently selecting a Jordanian and Israeli architect to join the project.

The Living Memorial Park project began taking shape when I invited architect Randy Gaskins and video artist Vin Grabill to participate. I then went on my first trip to Israel and Jordan. Once in Israel, I met with the families of the seven girls and filmed 32 hours of their children's history, visited the school the girls had attended, and recorded the words of some of the students who had been injured but were fortunate enough to be alive. I also went to Jordan and filmed Jordanian school children, the hospital where the injured were first taken, and other sites in Naharayim, Israel, the site of the proposed park. I received the parents' full support for the Living Memorial Park as well as encouraging responses from some of the students who were injured. The young girls' response was "children of different countries and beliefs should begin to play together when we are very young. . .yes, we need the Park". Reflecting their desire, I am particularly hopeful that Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian children will one day come together to play with and learn from each other.

Upon my return to the USA, video artist Vin Grabill and I edited the footage into a nine-hour documentary. Randy Gaskins and I produced large color architectural drawings of the various components of the Park, and I created large photo collages of each girl as well as a large painting symbolizing the Hebrew letter and number seven, "Zayin". The Park made its first appearance as a Living Memorial at a one-year exhibition held at the Yeshiva University Museum in New York City where four of the girls' fathers attended the exhibit's opening reception.

Presented here is a 24-minute video documentary summarizing progress made to date in realizing the goals of this project. The third video clip presents an excerpt of a speech made by Israel's former ambassador to the U.S., David Ivry, given at the opening of a second exhibition at Galerie Du Monde, Baltimore, in 2001. The full documentary is 9 hours in length, showcasing the families, the children, and the sites of both Israel and Jordan.

More recently, I was invited as an artist to be part of a program on the subject of CONFLICT AND RESOLUTION at the 58th Japan-American Student Conference at the American University in Washington, D.C I chose to speak about "A Living Memorial Park At Naharayim Seven Girls One Dream For The World":

Konichiwa...Hello!

Of all weapons, the most powerful are people. Much can be accomplished through our dreams for a safe environment for our selves, for our children, and for our families. It is always better to begin talking about Conflict as a singular disease that affects an individual human being. Even though I am not a psychologist, I believe that Conflict begins within us: our tensions, dreams, understanding, and in most cases our misunderstandings. In looking into myself, I discovered a picture of the world that I perceive to be ugly, inhospitable. Slowly...slowly, the question was...Who am I...? I came to the conclusion that as a human being I had inherent rights and responsibilities to afford changes for myself and changes for others. In looking at the world and its conditions, I realized that Conflict has contaminated the entire earth.
I call it contamination since I consider it to be a disease. Some diseases are not curable, but with medication, the life of the sick person can be prolonged.

You are people that have looked into yourself and have decided to embark on the journey I call the Human existence: Camus said that we live a life of numerical absurdity. We do, but just like Camus, you can become engaged. You can become the doctors that administer the medication to the sickness we call Conflict. There are far too many!!!

Look at us in this room. We begin to see that Resolution is possible. I Am here due to a wonderful composer/singer whose name is Yoko Kamitani. Coming from different parts of the world and not speaking the same language did not keep us apart. Instead we were open to each other and slowly, slowly we entered into each others lives as two human beings, as women and artists. We discovered through our link our fundamental common ground.

As another example of the kind of Resolution I seek through my work, I offer "A Living Memorial Park At Naharayim Seven Girls One Dream For The World". I began thinking that I as an artist had a responsibility to tell the story and create a Memorial that will be a bridge to understanding and that will bring Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian children together to play and learn respect for each other that will lead to a lasting peace.

  • A Living Memorial Park at Naharayim Seven Girls One Dream For The World (Video Still)

    You are people that have looked into yourself and have decided to embark on the journey I call the Human existence: Camus said that we live a life of numerical absurdity. We do, but just like Camus, you can become engaged. You can become the doctors that administer the medication to the sickness we call Conflict. There are far too many!!!
  • A Living Memorial Park at Naharayim Seven Girls One Dream For The World

    "A Living Memorial Park At Naharayim Seven Girls One Dream For The World" conceptually began shortly after the March 13, 1997 tragedy when a bus full of schoolgirls from Beit Shemesh, Israel went on an excursion to Naharayim, Jordan. Seven of the girls were shot and killed by a single Jordanian soldier. This project was conceived as a park that would link Israel and Jordan, with no border and no soldiers, offering the children the environment to play together and learn respect for each other.
  • A Living Memorial Park at Naharayim Seven Girls One Dream for the World, Part 1

    "A Living Memorial Park At Naharayim Seven Girls One Dream For The World" conceptually began shortly after the March 13, 1997 tragedy when a bus full of schoolgirls from Beit Shemesh, Israel went on an excursion to Naharayim, Jordan. Seven of the girls were shot and killed by a single Jordanian soldier.
  • A Living Memorial Park at Naharayim Seven Girls One Dream for the World, Part 2

    Upon my return to the USA, video artist Vin Grabill and I edited the footage into a nine-hour documentary. Randy Gaskins and I produced large color architectural drawings of the various components of the Park, and I created large photo collages of each girl as well as a large painting symbolizing the Hebrew letter and number seven, "Zayin". The Park made its first appearance as a Living Memorial at a one-year exhibition held at the Yeshiva University Museum in New York City where four of the girls' fathers attended the exhibit's opening reception.
  • A speech by David Ivry, former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S.

    Mr. Ivry addresses the opening reception of Gigi McKendric's "A Living Memorial Park at Naharayim Seven Girls One Dream for the World" exhibit at Galerie du Monde, Baltimore, MD, 2005.
  • New Park - 1977

    In the 1970's Gigi imagined another park in Canada. She was the only artist invited to submit a proposal, and received much attention for her plan. This is an example of how Gigi sees the park as a public meeting place for transformation.
  • New Park - 1977

    In the 1970's Gigi imagined another park in Canada. She was the only artist invited to submit a proposal, and received much attention for her plan. This is an example of how Gigi sees the park as a public meeting place for transformation.

J'Accuse: A Call to Conscience (Large Scale Installation, 1952 - 1995)

Holocaust: 1945
Kent State: 1970
Munich Olympics: 1972
Northern Ireland: 1973
South Africa: 1986-1988

This large scale installation series combines Sculpture, Painting, Lights, & Sound. Aside from The Holocaust work, each was made at the time the events and tragedies occurred, from 1952 (Holocaust) - 1995 (South Africa).

Three of the pieces were shown at George Washington University. The videos from the J'Accuse Series was documented at the Maryland Institute College of Art in the late 1990's.

This year (2019), I received a reply from German Information Center to my inquiry about possibility of showing J'Acuse: "We are happy to share the series with our friends and colleagues in the Embassy. It is important that decisive historical events are not only recorded in museums and history books, but that it is also possible to understand and deal with the past through various art projects. Therefore we thank you very much for addressing these difficult issues and using them for your projects in order to initiate discussions, reflections and conversation."

I was drawn to the "J'Accuse" statement for many personal reasons involving the Holocaust. When the world allowed six million Jews to be murdered, it lost its morality and has been going steadily downhill.

It was only as the work continued to develop that it became conceptualized as a universal and indeed ageless statement of man's inhumanity. Thus the expansion of the concept to treat Kent State, the Munich Olympics, Northern Ireland, and the South African tragedies have made me committed to reaching out for a continued documentation of these occurrences, as well as other atrocities, as they continue to occur to this day.

The hope is that the impact of the series will serve not only as representation of these individual events, but of the daily inhumanity which man must cope with and learn to control.

To be silent is to acquiesce. I choose to speak through the language I am most intimate with . . . Art.

As Albert Camus once wrote: "Without peace I see only agony. With peace all is possible and the historical contradictions in which we live transcend. In the meantime we must live, we must create in the storm."

“Very Moving, very Touching.”
-Senator Claiborne Pell

On This Cold and Bitter Night

"On This Cold And Bitter Night" began when my soul opened to the suffering of the women and children of Darfur. The poem arrived first and slowly morphed into the "cry for help" and the cry for connecting with a world that seems in a large measure if not indifferent, at times frozen by the continuing pain that human beings inflict on each other.

The written words of the poem seemed in need for the sound that only music can provide as a more direct route to the heart. I began searching for the right music that I hoped would bring the two - poem and music - to resonate towards inspiring participation on the part of the listener, slowly defrosting the heart. I found a responsive young man with a recording studio in Tallahassee, Florida, two young girls, as well as my daughter, Joanna, and I, to complement the voices heard on the 12-minute videotape.

The process of making this video began when I applied for a fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center, and while there I developed the visual content in the form of three individual collage panels of 4' X 4' that eventually found their way into the video.

Faces are what define as human beings. The faces of Darfur languishing under death and destruction, hunger and rape, are part of the first panel...as images set in sand.

The arms reaching across the many bodies of dead people are part of the second panel. One hears the sound of raising alarms, the poem and the music interspersed along the sound track.

You hear the painful sound of voices asking for help, while normal families are seen reflecting normal life, as part of the third panel. And with no relief in sight, speaking for those that cannot speak for themselves, one hears "DO YOU HEAR US?".

Hope lies within your hands and heart as to how you connect and respond.

  • On This Cold and Bitter Night

    "On This Cold And Bitter Night" began when my soul opened to the suffering of the women and children of Darfur. The poem arrived first and slowly morphed into the "cry for help" and the cry for connecting with a world that seems in a large measure if not indifferent, at times frozen by the continuing pain that human beings inflict on each other.

A Day In The Life Of A Firefighter Before September 11. . . And A Day After (Film)

This video documentary is now in the permanent collection at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City, NY. Collaborator: Vin Grabill, Videographer.

"A Day In The Life Of A Firefighter Before September 11 And A Day After" is the story of Keithroy Maynard, one of the 343 firefighters murdered as a result of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Told from the perspective of Keithroy's mother Pearl, this 37-minute videotape is a compelling story on many levels. In addition to Pearl's accounting of that fateful day, the program includes interviews from firefighters from the Manhattan and Brooklyn stations at which Keithroy worked, musical passages, still photography, and documentary footage from Keithroy's funeral service in 2005 and his subsequent burial on the island of Montserrat.

Through the story of this one individual and his family, my hope is to reveal universal values that might be suggested through our response to this tragedy.

Within his wonderful soul Keithroy Maynard was one of those human beings that plant and seek to harvest a small patch of earth on which kindness, compassion and love would grow. He wanted to save children, men, women, from the inferno that fire ignites. Undeterred by challenges and hardships Keithroy Maynard achieved his dream and became a firefighter for the New York City Fire Department, and a member of the Vulcan Society. This valiant man, Keithroy, Pearl Maynard's son, left behind a twin brother, Kevin, an older brother, Vernon, and a seven year old son, Keithroy, Jr. The names are necessary because each one is part of a link that ties members of a family together. When Keithroy was killed on that infamous September 11, the link broke and the strength that each derived from Keithroy was gone. Each member of the Maynard family will have now to deal with their own sorrow and also give hope to one another. In doing this they will also keep alive Keithroy's memory and honor him as they continue to pursue their dreams for a more peaceful world.

Rilke, Gigi, And...A Face In Time (Installation)

Artists get inspiration from each other, and I found mine from Rainer Maria Rilke's essay on faces. An excerpt from his essay "Faces", from "The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge":

"Have I said it before? I am learning to see.
Yes, I am beginning. It still goes slowly; but I intend to make the most of my time.
For one thing, it never occurred to me before how many different faces there are.
There are quantities of people, but there are even more faces, for each person has several".

The conceptual foundation for "Rilke, Gigi, And... A Face In Time" is Life Masks. The genesis began in 1982 with the idea of creating Life Masks to visualize the inalienable possession of every human being - the metaphysical face each one of us wears. The question was then posed: how conscious of our face are we? At what price is one individual, or group, willing to relinquish his/her or their face?

I received a commission from The University of Rhode Island at Providence to create a site-specific installation, and the title was extended to "Rilke, Gigi, And...A Face In Time, Gown and Town, University of Rhode Island".

This was the first project in which I integrated participants as part of the design. In addition, I taped Rilke's essay in whispered voice, and this was accompanied by sounds of music heard, as the people moved around throughout the installation space.

Another component was the placement of a video camera and a video monitor that recorded the public as they moved around the room, allowing them to see themselves as an important part of "A Face In Time". The entire university participated with my creating the Life Masks of students, faculty, the president of the University, and elected officials like Senator Claiborne Pell who created the Pell Student Loans. The installation was designed to reflect the status of a wide range of people within the university by means of the Life Masks suspended from the ceiling of the 3000-foot space.

Participants are explained the process and photographed, and after the life mask is complete, participants are asked to write their own commentary on what they felt and thought during the process. Commentary varied from one line ("I look like my uncle") to lengthy commentary about emotions and feelings.

Completed life masks are used in sculpture and installations, to create a microcosmic overview of the site-specific space in which the installation took place.

I have made life masks of participants ranging from all walks of like: from academics, senators, ambassadors, and members of parliament, to school children and people of all social and economic backgrounds. The life mask does not discriminate. A face is a face.

A Face in Time: Life Masks (Sculpture)

A Face is time is a series of sculptures are symbols of both the personal and the public...the "face" and the "hand" are what define us as humans and are part of our earliest consciousness.

The source of my work comes from literature, as in the case of Rainer Maria Rilke's essay on "Faces", recreation his words into my own work as a sculptor of "Life Masks". Beginning with one, looking deeper into the 'human face' just as the Poet did in his writing in the "Notebooks of Malta Laurids Brigg," and creating a series.

The genesis began in 1982 with the idea of creating Life Masks to visualize the inalienable possession of every human being - the metaphysical face each one of us wears. The question was then posed: how conscious of our face are we? At what price is one individual, or group, willing to relinquish his/her or their face?

Participants are explained the process and photographed, and after the life mask is complete, participants are asked to write their own commentary on what they felt and thought during the process. Commentary varied from one line ("I look like my uncle") to lengthy commentary about emotions and feelings.

I have made life masks of participants ranging from all walks of like: from academics, senators, ambassadors, and members of parliament, to school children and people of all social and economic backgrounds, and from this country as well as abroad. The life mask does not discriminate. A face is a face.

Gigi is also available to be commissioned to create Life and Hand Masks of individuals, families, or other groups.

Rilke, Gigi And...Dear Kurt (Performance Art)

"Rilke, Gigi, And . . . Dear Kurt", a performance art work, was created in 1983 for the Rhode Island Art Event and staged at Brown University. The work is based on the poem "Dear Kurt", which recalls the experience of a child of the Holocaust.

A single Jewish family is the core of the performance, in the belief that people can more easily identify with "one" than with millions. The poem "Dear Kurt" is seen with the eyes of a child who has taken in the terror and destruction, committing it forever to memory. Stripped of the cloth of our humanity, left naked, we continue to bear witness.

The child/artist will not allow time to diminish the past. By recreating the past, there is a glimmer of hope that you, the viewer, will then become a link of memory to memory . . . action to action, that never again will children's eyes witness the past, present, or future atrocities.

The performance is also offered as a triumph of the human spirit with moments of relief, hope, and whimsy. A 60-minute videotape documents the performance at the Goucher College Mildred Dunnock Theater in 1992, shown here in 4 parts.

Performed to Beethoven's 9th Symphony, 1st and 3rd movement.

Excerpt from"Dear Kurt"
by Gigi McKendric

"There is a knock
at my door
this cold/bitter
night
sending shivers
up and down
my back

By all accounts
the crocuses
should be
out
instead
the snow is
four feet above
the ground

Branches of
trees
are heavily
laden
with snow
many are
torn
frozen
they lie
on the ground

These storms
they say
brought this about
on this
bleak night"

Rilke, Rodin, Gigi, And…Peanuts…Peanuts…Peanuts

The intent of “Rilke, Rodin, Gigi, And...Peanuts...Peanuts...Peanuts” is to present today’s desolation of human life now that more and more people are finding themselves without shelter and without food. In the context of this visual/performance work, the Darker side of Today and the more Optimistic Tomorrow will run parallel.

In the performance itself, there can be found a metaphysical line. Left to the imagination and using Art, the hope is that awareness of both the desolation and beauty inherent in the quest of the individual for a better life will become reality.
Freely and slowly rotating in space, Life Masks are a symbolic part of the philosophical concept representing the fusion of both the individual and the collective “past and present”.

We offer a few moments of relief, hope, and whimsy.

Rilke, Gigi And...A Face In Time (Poems, Life Masks, Dance, Music)

July 24, 2016 - War Memorial Art Initiative - Baltimore, MD

Recipient of a "Mitzvah Grant" from the Baltimore Community Foundation

This presentation was offered free to the public.

Select Video Works

“Balloon Man” is comprised of several components that began with the creation of the sculpture some years ago. As time went by, the joyous image of the "balloons" began to flow within my vision and was accompanied by visualizing children's happy faces looking at the balloons. It began with the “Balloon Man” sculpture (soldered copper, dimensions: 100” x 24” x 12”), created over 40 years ago. In 2008 I wrote and recorded the poem and combined all of these elements to express the human spirit.

“The Hidden Miracle of the Creative Spirit – Holocaust and Genocide” is conceived in response to the ongoing Pandomaniac Acts of Degradation and Death that human beings continue to inflict on their fellow human beings. There are few parts of the world where the madness has not found its fertile ground.

An attempt is made to showcase the works of children and adults who, when faced with Life/Death threatening circumstance, continue to create works of art. These works are a testament to the richness and perseverance of their inner life, and I choose to call their response to the cruelty of the world “The Hidden Miracle Of The Creative Spirit”.This video stems from a desire to keep alive the memory of children who wrote the poems and drew the pictures at the Terezin concentration camp, as well as the memory of the adults, and in some cases their families, who risked their own lives in order to create their last testament.

Years back, I saw the Terezin exhibit in New York and bought Gerald Green’s book “The Artists of Terezin”. I initially laid the book away because it would not allow my conscience rest. To remain silent any longer, however, would be an act of cowardice, and so, instead, I have approached a group of parents and asked them to participate by giving me permission to film their children (ages 8 -13) and to encourage them to become familiar with the story of Terezin and the fate of the children who lived and were murdered there. In simple words, I explained to them what took place and gave them each several poems, asking them to read them, memorize them, and then speak them in front of the camera. In this way, the children and their parents who had never heard of Terezin became an ongoing link, memory to memory, that will continue into the future.

Also featured in this video mural are three African-American children and one adult, standing as witness for those mothers and children of Darfur who have met with such hardship and death.

  • “Ode to America, the Beautiful” & “Ode to Joy” (Poetry Reading)

    Artist Gigi McKendric does a reading of two original poems: “Ode to America, the Beautiful” & “Ode to Life” (2021)
  • Balloon Man

    This artwork is comprised of several components that began with the creation of the sculpture some years ago. As time went by, the joyous image of the "balloons" began to flow within my vision and was accompanied by visualizing children's happy faces looking at the balloons. It began with the “Balloon Man” sculpture (soldered copper, dimensions: 100” x 24” x 12”), created over 40 years ago. In 2008 I wrote and recorded the poem and combined all of these elements to express the human spirit.
  • The Hidden Miracle of the Creative Spirit: Holocaust and Genocide

    “The Hidden Miracle of the Creative Spirit – Holocaust and Genocide” is conceived in response to the ongoing Pandomaniac Acts of Degradation and Death that human beings continue to inflict on their fellow human beings. There are few parts of the world where the madness has not found its fertile ground. An attempt is made to showcase the works of children and adults who, when faced with Life/Death threatening circumstance, continue to create works of art.

Connect with Gigi

Gigi's Curated Collection

This artist has not yet created a curated collection.