Laila Salins, copyright 2019


How do we reach for a vision of what our life can become after it has fallen apart? How do we rediscover goodness and beauty when it seems to have disappeared? Our sense of self may be ravaged by emotional and physical abuse; our home may be lost or destroyed by floods, hurricanes, raging wildfires, economic hardship or war; and the loss of those close to us through illness and death can lead us to feel isolated and hopeless. Renovating Paradise is a multi-tiered project which seeks to delve into the ways that we can rebuild our inner and outer lives – through community, artistic expression, and/or a spiritual path.

        Part I: In the fall of 2019 I'll be working together with Sandra Zandberga (artistic director of the VEF Cultural Palace in Riga, Latvia) and Gigi Kaeser, photographer, (Family Diversity Projects), to create a photo-text exhibit of people whose lives were destroyed and subsequently sought ways to "renovate paradise."

         Part II: this source material will be used to create a new multi-media music theater piece, with my own original music and text, to be presented in Western MA, New York City and Riga, Latvia, in the spring of 2020.

CEC Artslink announced that Renovating Paradise is one of the five International Fellows' projects it is supporting in 2019: "These extraordinary artists from Albania, Georgia, Latvia, Lebanon, Palestine, and Romania will continue their collaborations creating new work that draws inspiration from interaction with artists and communities in the U.S. "

Laila Salins with Gundars Silakaktiņš, 2018,

Riga, Latvia; photo: Mārite Melnika