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Artist Kaire van der Toorn-Guthan, an Estonian living in the Netherlands, conceived of her project "Eesti läbi 100 silmapaari" (“Estonia Through 100 Pairs of Eyes”) in San Francisco during the LEP-ESTO festival in 2013. The project, which shows Estonia through the perspectives and lives of one hundred photograph portrait subjects, grew into a way to celebrate and share Estonian stories during Estonia’s centennial year.

This spring, west coast Estonians are working to bring the exhibit to the US, to share these Estonian stories with an American audience as well as our local Estonian communities. The World Affairs Council, a nonprofit forum in San Francisco with a mission of bringing expert voices to the discussion of global issues, will host the exhibit from April to July in downtown San Francisco. They will also host a special event on April 25, featuring an interview with the artist and a special speaker to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the NATO alliance.

The exhibit will continue on to the 2019 Lääneranniku Eesti Päevad (West Coast Estonian Days) from July 31-August 4 at Jantzen Beach near Portland, Oregon, and to locations in Seattle and Los Angeles. Each community will have the opportunity to build its own program around the exhibit as outreach.

The portraits, by noted Estonian photographer Toomas Volkmann, feature individuals from diverse walks of life and different generations, each born in a different year of the Estonian republic. The exhibit was shown at the Estonian National Museum in Tartu in 2018, as well as at other venues in Estonia, Europe, and Canada, while the hardcover book of the exhibit was presented by President Kaljulaid as a gift to other heads of state and honored guests. The book also includes a rich selection of imagery of the Estonian countryside, towns, and other scenes by photographers Tõnu Runnel and Tõnu Tunnel.

Many organizations are working together to bring the exhibit abroad, including the San Francisco Estonian Society, the Lääneranniku Eesti Päevad 2019 organizers, the Seattle and Los Angeles Estonian communities, and the Museum of Estonians Abroad (VEMU) in Toronto. The organizers are grateful for funding support from the Rotalia Foundation, the Estonian American National Council, and the Estonian Relief Committee, which supports bringing exhibit materials from Canada, shipping them within the US, printing supplementary materials, and advertising the exhibit to a general audience.

There are still opportunities to support and sponsor the project, on an individual or corporate level.

Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.


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