Hannah Gundlach: Ancestry Revived


Artist Statment

The focal point of Ancestry Revived is a Czechoslovakian folk vase with embroidered edelweiss, a flower which symbolized German resistance against Nazism during the Second World War and the ability to grow in the toughest conditions. The background is composed of vibrant renditions of Italian, French, and Czechoslovakian folk art. The flowers were embroidered with thread from my great grandmother’s sewing kit, physically tying the piece to my family and bringing me closer to them through the act of making.

The death of my grandparents acted as a catalyst for my interest in researching their lives and discovering more about my family’s countries of origin. Through this piece, I am able to feel connected to lost family members in a way that doesn’t feel sorrowful, but instead celebratory of their lives and the collage that makes me. In this work, ethnically significant icons are collaged and layered together, in the way that each person’s identity is created through generations of combining different cultures and traditions. The icons are layered with such an intensity that it is impossible to focus solely on the edelweiss and ignore the colorful background that tells so many more details about the complexity of my family history. The use of vivid colors brings joy and life back to the family history that can be lost over time if children and grandchildren don’t pay attention to the many stories their older relatives have to share.

About the Project

  • Title of Work: Ancestry Revived
  • Medium: 20" x 10" acrylic painting with embroidery
  • Student's Name: Hannah Gundlach
  • Major: Art
  • Anticipated Graduation Date: 24-May
  • Hometown: Waterloo, Illinois
  • Student's Mentor: Alejandra Salinas
  • Mentor's Department: Art


Todd Vonderheide

This is not only an incredible piece of art but a beautiful story of her heritage . I love it. 

Deb Ward

Beautiful work! I love the design and the colors. The sense of personal identity reflected in the design elements to family ties is touching. It's so easy to relate to this lovely piece.