The series of portraits entitled Faces of Dynów by artist Nina Talbot depicts the lives of people from the Polish town of Dynów against the backdrop of the history of the town during the pre-war 1920s and 1930s to the present day. Portrait subjects are a part of Talbot’s family tree by way of ancestral familial and spiritual connections, a tree broken by the travails of war and imprisonment. The portraits illustrate a network of relationships, between the subject and the artist, and amongst the subjects themselves, that taken together, portray a rich and nuanced picture of Jewish life. These paintings are an embodiment of the telling of stories, upon which the survival of this history of Jewish life relies.
The stories that the paintings tell do so in painstaking detail, with visually represented anecdotes and history. The paintings convey the texture of the lives they depict, allowing the viewer to personally connect with the subject. The history of our ancestors is revived and sustained through the relationship we form with the stories.
These connections, woven together through stories Talbot elicited from survivors, witnesses and descendants of the generations before her, constitute a rich picture of the cultural history of pre-war Jewish life while recognizing the stories of survival that largely led to the disappearance of this culture from the shtetls of Eastern Europe.
The stories of survivors and Jewish people who came to the U.S. before pre-war is the foundation of the family, social and religious networks that contextualize our lives as Jewish Americans. The presence of those who perished in the time range of 1939–1948 is established through visual representation of elements from their personal histories, rendered through stories from descendants and historical research