Avthemion, a Greek village in Turkey, and Garnet, a gold mining town in America are geographically worlds apart, but historical similarities exist: both communities were built and thrived at the end of the nineteenth century, and both communities experienced a mass exodus, forcing residents to abandon their mountain homes.
My project, Rooms With A View: Never Built To Last, blends photographs from my family history in Avthemion with photographs I created in the ‘ghost’ town Garnet to visualize the metaphors of community, historical change and abandonment.
Nestled between three mountains overlooking the strait connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranain Sea there was a Greek village, Avthemion that was never built to last. The thriving community in Turkish territory had moved their village a number of times to avoid Turkish oppression. Avthemion was the last settlement of my ancestors before the “exchange of peoples”. With the decline of the Ottoman Empire after WWI, Turkey and Greece forged an agreement. The Treaty of Lausanne and The Armistice of Mamounia provided for the exchange of minority peoples. Greeks were forced out ot their homes and sent to live in Salonika, Greece. Avthemion was renamed Ucmakdere and Turkish people living in Salonika were sent to live in the abandoned Greek homes.
In the heart of the Garnet Mountains in Montana there is a well-known ghost town. It too was never built to last. Garnet was a thriving community where gold miners and their families lived at the end of the nineteenth century. By 1905 the gold was exhausted from the mountain. A devastating fire occurred in 1912 spreading through the town, burning the commercial buildings and all the residences in the lower end of town and forced the towns’ people to abandon their homes.
The Greeks fled Avthemion for political reasons, and the miners in Garnet moved on due to economic reasons. The communities were displaced and the families scattered in both.
My images are created by merging images of my Greek ancestors with the photographs I created in the abandoned buildings in Garnet.
Having traveled to visit the sites of both of these historic villages I immediately found the ghost town of Garnet to be the ‘safe haven, for my personal memories of my ancestors.
Rooms With A View: Never Built To Last, photographically links together and documents the historical significance of two unlikely kindred spirits, the community of Avthemion, my ancestors, and the mining community of Garnet.
Cynthia Morgan Batmanis is a visual artist based in Houston, Texas, who employs historical photographic processes in her creative practice. After a number of years in which she created and exhibited drawings and lithographs, these mediums are less of a focus but still relevant in her work. Her love of drawing, an important means of expression since childhood, is evident in her photography. Her 3-dimensional works include drawings as well as lithographic and photographic images.
Cynthia Morgan Batmanis is a visual artist who explores issues of memory and personal histories in her work. Although educated in the sciences, beginning in 1980 she has created and widely exhibited artworks in a variety of media including lithography and drawing. For the past 10 years elements of photography, including historical processes including ziatypes, salt prints, cyanotypes, bromiol prints, lith/amidol prints, tintypes and ambrotypes have become a vital part of her creative practice. Batmanis is currently preparing an installation of "Iconic Women" that features her 3-dimensional multi-media works including drawing, as well as lithographic and photographic images on fabric constructions.
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