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Thomas Simaku with a CD Release on Naxos
A CD comprising 6 works performed by the Kreutzer Quartet has just been released in the UK on Naxos records,and also in USA and Canada.
Thomas Simaku is an Albanian Composer among 21st Century Classics.For more information about individual tracks, please go to Naxos website.
A new CD release of Thomas Simaku

Monument to the Victims of Communism in Ottawa - Canada
Communist Sign the petition to support the building of a Monument to the Victims of Communism, in Ottawa, Canada

To: Parliament of Canada
While the horrors of Nazism are well known, who knows that the Soviet Union murdered 20 million people? Who knows that China's dictators have slaughtered an estimated 60 million? Who knows that the Communist holocaust has exacted a death toll surpassing that of all of the wars of the 20th century combined ? Just as we must grasp Communism's brutality, we must understand the true cause of this era's most significant event: the fall of the Soviet Union. While we believe that Vaclav Havel was right when he saw the fall of the Communist empire as an event on the same scale as the fall of the Roman Empire, it was not the end of Communism. Sign and Join this petition

Who recognised KOSOVA as an Independent State?
Countries that have recognized or Announced the recognition of Republic of Kosova
We are honored and humbled that it is our generation that lives to see that day and we are aware and ready to take up the path that begins from here. Our future is with Europe.Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, for standing by us in the worst times. In memory of those who gave and lost their lives, and loved ones. May peace and light prevail. Countries who recognized Kosova

Boycott of Greek products in Albania
Boycott of Greek products in Albania!

Albanian nationalists, who accuse Greece of turning the country into a non-conventional colony of Greece, are using the protest to halt the rising power of Greece in the country. In 2006 Greek Imports reached EUR 406mn, while Greek investments are estimated at over EUR 400mn. Greek companies and businesses own substantial shares in the telecommunication, petroleum and financial markets in the country. Strong protests were organized by the "Cham" population, ethnic Albanians that used to live in the territory of current Greece till the end of World War II. Afterwards, they forcedly expelled from their properties. Therefore we call on you to Boycott greek products in Albania

Donation for an Albanian Bridge in Shkoder City.
Has started a project to raise funds to build a bridge in the village of "Ure e Shtrenjte", near Shkoder. In need for donation to complete this project. More ..

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Albanian Arts:

Erla Shehu — a fine artist and ILLUSTRATOR

Posted on Friday, February 27 @ 14:04:22 PST by classiclady

I Am Albanian

    2003 She is only 22 years old, but the number awards of recognition that she won all these years are significant for the full lifetime of any artist.

    From ages 8 to 13, her parents registered her in the children’s course, “The Gladness of the Eye” for drawing, in Tirana, the capital of Albania..

    By Rozi Theohari - sent exclusively to ACLIS

    During this time, she was expected to draw each challenging lighted sculpture as realistically as possible. The final goal was so that this piece would look like a three dimensional object that one could pick up from the drawing paper. As a little girl, she loved to draw and color with her markers, and she started to believe in herself and her work. She felt superior toward the other young artists, and at such a young age she had confidence and the belief that her fantasy and ability to draw, color and paint in the years to come was limitless.

    Erla remembers herself sitting at her desk for hours thinking, drawing and erasing. Aside from being inspired from each other, everything she drew and colored came purely from her imagination. Coming up with ideas, or even sticking to one idea, was often difficult and challenging, but it forced her to discover and develop her own individual style. At such a young age, it was very rewarding. It was definitely a good, training experience.

    By the end of her journey with “The Gladness of Eye”, her work was selected to compete in several exhibitions around Europe such as Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Turkey, Finland, others in Japan and many more in U.S, and Albania. She was nine years old when she won her first Silver Key award in Hungary, and since then she was awarded more prizes from US and Albanian competitions such as:

    October 1994 Silver Diploma for the outstanding achievement in the “Rainbow” international art contest organized by the Gallery of Children’s Art : Children’s Center of lake Balaton, Hungary 1996 Diploma on the Tenth International Art Exhibition for Children and young People, Finland 1997 3rd place on the competition “Dita e Neserme” Sponsored by SOROS dhe Children’s Aid Direct, Tirane, Albania 1997 1st place in the competition “Paqe, Miresi dhe Dashuri per njeri tjetrin” UNICEF ,Tirane, Albania 1998 Special Diplome in the global artistic “Shoqeria e pare permes syve te femijeve”from The International Museum of Children’s Art , hapur ne Bangkok, Tailand 1998 Representing Albania in the final selection of 1998 International Poster Contest on “Generations Living Together” sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund, Tirane Albania .

    When she turned 13, she experienced a different method of training. Her new instructor was a very well- known and respected artist in Albania. He was the first to influence her to draw from observation, and see the beauty in every simple thing. She was in love with her drawing, and suddenly her future in the art world seemed to make sense!

    After completing the 7th grade and having just turned 14, in the summer of 1999, she left her family, her childhood friends, everything she knew, to come to America where she had always been encouraged to believe that opportunities and artistic freedom were limitless. That first year she lived with her aunt and her grandmother in Salem, Massaschusetts. Her aunt helped her get into Collins Middle School. Erla remembers she knew little to no English, therefore she was not able to understand her classmates and most importantly her teachers. The experience and the culture shock challenged her both mentally and physically. Determined to learn the language she put aside the possibility of a social life. Everyday, after school she stayed on the grandmother’s room to work on her homework, read, write, and study until midnight. She says: “It did not take me long until I was finally able to communicate with my classmates and understand my teachers, and thank them for all their patients with me. At the end of the year, I was awarded as one of the best two students graduating from Collins Middle school in 2000. This was a great accomplishment for me, and a time when I was reminded that hard work always pays off. “

    Getting through her first year in America, art was very important to Erla. It was the one language she knew she could communicate in. It was through her artwork that she connected to both her peers and her teachers. She took all the required art classes that were needed in order to graduate and was always praised for her work. It was artistic talent that set her apart and made her feel that she was good enough and deserved to be a student in America. She was asked to participate in the school’s major art projects, painted school-play backdrops, and a 2m by 4m large mural of underwater life inside the art room. She was asked visit art classes and show her portfolio of pencil drawings to the students. She was very shy, but she enjoyed sharing her work with the students.

    As a reward for being a good student, the school paid for her to attend the summer art program. It was a very nice experience, and one of the best gifts she could have asked for. At the end of the program, she was asked by the principal of the school to paint a flag mural at the gymnasium. Erla remembers: “ I worked on the wall from a ladder for hours for ten days I wanted the final flag to be perfect, so I drew and redrew the stars and the lines a few times before painting it with acrylic paint, a very new media to me. At the end, I was happy with the results. On the left corner of the flag, I signed my name, and underneath it I signed ALBA to represent Albania”. More than 8 years, later the American flag, Erla’s name, and the sign of Albania is still on the walls of Collins Middle School, where students and teachers sing the national anthem. Successfully completing and leaving her mark at Collins Middle School, she was ready to take on the challenges of High School…On this occasion, the newscorrespondent B.Keva wrote an article dedicated to Erla Shehu, with the title: “ Albanian girl uses art to
    show love for U.S.” The correspondent continues with the interview of Erla’s teacher: “Erla is unusual,” says Flynn, the art teacher. “It’s the first time in 14 years of teaching that I’ve seen someone like this…The technical skill and creative process for someone so young is incredibile. Her work is like looking at artwork in a gallery. She’s unbelievable in pencil drawing and also in sculpture and painting.”

    By this time, her parents were able to come to America; finally Erla reunited with her mother, father and older sister. They moved to Beverly, Massachusetts, where she attended Beverly High School. High school was also challenging. With her portfolio she went to the art room to meet Mrs. Paula Borsetty, who was the high school’s most respected art teacher. Paula looked at the drawings carefully and said very few words. At the end she wrote a small note directed to the registrars office and gave it to Erla, who automatically entered in Mrs. Borsetis art class. Since then Erla enrolled in all the art classes offered by the high school, and with Paula’s motherly support and encouragement she entered many Massachusetts high school art competitions, and exhibitions.

    For four years in high school, she was constantly challenging herself not only artistically, but also academically. Although English was her second language, she refused to let it hold her back. Her peers and her teachers genuinely respected her talent and her will to learn. Erla remembers:

    “In my first semester in Beverly High I joined the school’s literary magazine titled, Aegis.

    Aegis had a history of more than a hundred years; it was a selection of students’ illustrations, poems and short stories. It was a magazine I fell in love with and was very happy to become a part of for the rest of my high school years. I was first introduced to Aegis by a group of four young women in their senior year, the editors of the magazine. They had heard about my work and asked my permission to publish one of my pieces on the cover and a few more drawings inside pages, published in the 2000-2001 school year. I soon learned that the cover image had always been a competition, so I was pleased for the offer. Since then I illustrated about five more covers and several small images printed on the inside pages. I joined the magazines’ meetings every Tuesday after school, and at the end of my freshman year I was asked to become the new Art Editor. I took up the challenge and did my best for the three following years.” She received many awards for her artwork. She won the Golden Key Award and a national award from Coca Cola. She designed t-shirts for the football and soccer teams, and she donated to Waymond Pearson Foundation to help homeless teenagers in the Boston area.

    At the beginning of her senior year, students of Class 2004 expressed their desire to the school’s principal for Erla to illustrate the cover of 2004 yearbook. No student had ever designed the yearbook cover before, so it was a risk but also a great honor to her. She was given permission and accepted the responsibility. Everyone was happy with the end results.

    During high school, Erla had a very close relationship with her art teacher, Paula Borsetti. Erla liked to draw old people very much. For this reason, Mrs. Borsetti brought in an older gentleman to model in one of her classes. This gentleman was Paula’s father. Erla worked on this drawing for many hours and she was happy with it. Mrs. Paula was touched by the portrait and gave it to her father for his birthday. When her father passed away about 3- 4 years later, she and her family had Erla’s drawing next to his casket, because this portrait was so nostalgic.

    At the high school’s graduation ceremony, Mrs. Paula delivered a touching speech about Erla, and in tears she presented her the award for “Exellence in Fine Arts”. Erla went on stage in front of more than 500 students and all her professors, and also in tears, she gave her a very big hug. All the students applauded…

    From fall 2004 to spring 2008, Erla trained in Illustration at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, in Boston Massachusetts. It was there that she realized the power of studying the master painters and art movements of the past, that influenced in her art. Erla says: “ Through my courses at MassArt I studied Impressionism, Abstract Expressionism, Realism, Cubism, Romanticism, Pre-Raphaelites and more. I learned from all the masters; from Picasso I learned about negative and positive light and form as well as perspective and deconstruction, from Rubens and Monet I learned the power of color, and from John Singer Sergeant, realism and texturing. “

    Born in Albania, she dreamed a great deal and trusted that one day she would become a successful artist. She did not know what road would take her there, but that her talent, passion, and determination would greatly influence the path to someday, realizing her dreams. As a child, she had nothing more to work with than some dried out crayola markers (lapustila). Although there was an abundance of encouragement from everyone for her to draw and paint, there was limited money for those little extras such as crayola markers or paint supplies, so she made do with what she could find.

    According to Erla, drawing is an incredible way to communicate, and how people communicate with one another has always been of importance in both her black and white, and color work. With her work she wants to tell a story, so she draws and paints expression, body language, and character, but she absolutely leaves the door open for personal interpretation.

    In addition, she believes that a painting should offer some sense of mystery for the viewer and this mystery is often created by a subject’s relationship with another character or with an element within the setting. Her goal has always been to create works that tell a story and more. She merely opens the door and invites the viewer to get to know her subjects. She really wants the viewer to ask what it is that this character is meditating on or thinking about, what might have just happened or is about to happen and how this person will deal with it.

    Erla continues: “I admit that I have a tendency to paint mostly beautiful people, especially women. The truth is that beauty is subjective, and sometimes I embellish a portrait of a female subject. At times I make her taller, thinner, or even a bit arrogant to show her in the best light possible, -the way a woman wants to be seen- but the true beauty of a woman comes from within her, from her heart, her soul, and that is what I aim to capture. I see beauty in every woman, so I paint beautiful women…I love color just as much as black and white. I love the freedom of paint, but I do feel that black and white pencil drawing is how I express myself best.”

    One day Erla received an e-mail from Mrs. Jean Pembroke: “Hello Erla, Happy New Year! I purchased one of your etchings from the show you hung here at Cell Signal Exhibition. It’s the one of the gentleman resting his head in his hand. I think people thought it was your grandfather, but I remember you said it was not. I gave it to my husband for Christmas, and he absolutely loves it! My sister and her husband were admiring it as well. Thank you! I was wondering if you could send any info about the piece and/or yourself, so I could let them know. We have several pieces in our house and we like to give information about the artist when people ask. I do remember you saying it took you a very long time to finish it. Thanks in advance! Jean Pembroke”…Part of Erla’s respond: “…this portrait was one of my favorite pieces in the show, and it was personally difficult for me to let it go. The portrait successfully captures a specific moment of expression that illustrates the model’s personality, character and his likeness. The drawing took about 10 to 12 hours. I worked from a live model and than I took a picture of the model so I could add in the details. I was proud of this drawing and praised for it by my peers and high school art teacher. When I was all done I titled it, "Critical Thinking". In 2003 more than 3600 Massachusetts students in grades seven through twelve entered the 53rd annual Boston Globe Scholastic Art Awards. I participated with the "Critical Thinking" drawing and was awarded a Silver Key. The pieces that won Gold and Silver Keys were on display at the State Transportation Building for about a month. At the end of my senior year in high school, I exhibited this piece together with a few other drawings in the Beverly High School art show. At the opening of the exhibition the mayor of Beverly offered to purchase this drawing to hang for his office. His offer, as you can imagine, was an honor to me, but at the time I was very attached to this piece…”

    Erla, a talented artist and a compassion daughter and sister, continues painting and drawning in her house in Beverly. She works part- time in the Business Ofice at The Massachusetts College of Art & Design, Boston, and also Freelances work/clients not only in MA, but in other US states. There is a long list of her exhibitions and her awards : 2007 Calvin Burnett Award, by Mass Art Faculty Design Department, 2005 Honorary Member, Beverly Guild Artist, 2004 Portfolio Nominee, The Boston Globe scholastic Art Awards, 2004 Special Congressional Recognition, Mass 6th Congessional Art Compettition, and many others…She is an Affilation and membership Museum of Fine Arts, in Boston, MA. She is a proficient in all forms of two-dimensional media.

    A gifted and friendly person ,Erla Shehu, an artist, painter and illustrator concludes: “ Drawing and painting are ways I can investigate reality, analyze the perfect from the imperfect and distinguish the mundane from the mysterious…I see the human figure as a body of art…I find nature as a source of inspiration…I feel I am free to enthusiastically play with colors, hues , and tones…My goal as an illustrative artist is not just to accurately depict, but to express something that will conjure up fond memories for my viewers…”

Published by ACLIS Feb. 27, 2009

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