Danielle Mužina


 

By creating domestic worlds for my viewers that are both familiar and mysterious, I want to encourage an introspective dialogue about the ever-changing and complex relationship we all have with the idea of “home.” Our dwellings are sites of bottom-up history, places loaded with evidence of the efforts of ordinary people living their lives. Yet the home, structured by choice, tradition, and circumstance, is much more than its objective structure. The home space is simultaneously a sanctuary from the chaos in our lives and the battleground for some of our biggest struggles as individuals and as families. The house provides a shared body for the experiences of the family. It is a space full of living metaphors and embedded memories, laden with equal parts love and frustration.

 

 Families, knit together by blood and stories, coexist in domestic space whether they live together or merely haunt one another’s expectations for home. Like the disorderly and restless surfaces of my paintings, our family narratives are messy, full of things we try to conceal, and can often feel claustrophobic. Often, the habits and traditions of our families feel like sacred rituals, permeating our perceptions of time and identity. Our larger sense of belonging in the world is often correlated with how connected or disconnected we are from our homes and families, whether in terms of physical proximity or emotional rapport.

 

The spaces in my paintings are invented by combining fragments of rooms from my apartment, from the Cleveland houses where I spent my childhood, and from my family’s centuries-old home in Krk, Croatia. Like many who grow up between two cultures, I am constantly negotiating a place for myself that keeps family history sacred but leaves room for me to breathe. Like everyone, I carry resonant fragments of my history with me and repurpose them to build new home spaces, better suited to who I may become. The painting-space allows for a free interplay of multiple places and times, just as mental space allows past and present to both mingle and conflict in the rooms we spend our lives in. As my understanding of home continues to shift, my paintings seek to establish a sense of place, even if it is an ephemeral one.

Statement