Sybil’s Mind: Blue at the University Club of Chicago

Sybil blueSybil’s Mind: Blue, a recently completed piece, has been selected for an exhibit at the University Club of Chicago. This is a premier organization in Chicago, located across Michigan Avenue from the Art Institute of Chicago.

Established in 1887 by university graduates who wanted a special place where they could enjoy intellectual pursuits, the University Club of Chicago was founded for the purpose of fostering an appreciation of literature and the arts. College or university graduation remains the basic requirement for membership, and within the membership nearly every business and profession is represented.

In this piece, I interwove a photograph of Sybil’s home in rural Minnesota, which I visited in 1980. She had dissociative identity disorder (then called multiple personality disorder) and was the subject of two major motion pictures (1976 and 2007).

The exhibit is March 12 through April 9, 2018. Opening reception is Monday, March 12, 5:30 to 7:00 PM. All are invited to attend this festive event. Admission is free.

University Club of Chicago

76 East Monroe Street

Chicago, IL 60603


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Columns of Thought at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, University of Chicago

Beckett face smDetail from Dreamscape: Beckett’s Godot, as the colored lights change.

Ten of my light sculptures from the series Columns of Thought, will be displayed at the University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. The exhibit will take place from March 27 through April 10, 2018. The reception will take place Wednesday, April 4, at 7:30 PM. All are welcome to attend.

The exhibit is described in the Chapel’s publication, Arts Rock:

“Rockefeller Chapel is proud to present Columns of Thought by Audrius V. Plioplys—a series of light sculptures 65 inches tall, each incorporating multiple layers of assemblage and representing a writer or artist whose influence has shaped Plioplys’ life and work, including Hieronymus Bosch, Samuel Beckett, Franz Kafka, and Sigmund Freud. In pigmented inks on polycarbonate, with LED color-changing lights, on poplar wood.

“The words of neo-conceptual artist Audrius Plioplys are held in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and the British Library, London. This is his third installation at Rockefeller Chapel. Presented in conjunction with the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience.”

Further information about this series can be found in the art gallery of my primary website,

Below: detail from Dreamscape: Kafka’s Law, as the colored lights change.

comp Kafka detail one sm

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Seizure magazine and Sybil

Seizure front cover 2018

One of the most important epilepsy journals is the European journal Seizure.

It is an honor to have my recent art work, Sybil’s Mind: Purple, illustrate the front cover of the current issue.

In 1980 I visited the home of Sybil in rural Minnesota and photographed it. She had dissociative identity disorder and was quite famous because of a book written about her, and two major motion pictures (1976 and 2007). This photograph was intertwined in the many layers of composition in this art work.

Below is the original photograph that I took of Sybil’s home.


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First contemporary art in the Oriental Institute collection

Oriental Institute bull

In 2017, the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute acquired it’s first examples of contemporary art, which were added to it’s permanent collection. These two pieces were my own 10 x 20 foot paintings, Veil and Cassiopeia, part of the Cosmic Consciousness series of art works. Both of these pieces had been recently exhibited in Breasted Hall of the Oriental Institute.

The Oriental Institute was founded in 1919 and has been, and continues to be, one of the leading international institutions in archaeologic exploration and research. It is an honor to have my own art work break the 99 year tradition of only having ancient artifacts in the collection.

Further information about these pieces can be found in the art gallery section of my website.

Oriental Institute Egypt

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Gutauskas: Elskus, Kezys

006 goodVaclovas Gutauskas SJ, in his office on wheels. Photograph by Algimantas Kezys.

Since 1976, I have been collecting my family, and the Plioplys surname, histories. My father’s death in 1974 gave me the impetus to start this process. I had not had an opportunity of learning of his experiences in war-torn Lithuania, life in emigrant camps in Germany, in Canadian high arctic gold mines, and establishing a family in Toronto. I felt a tremendous loss. The only way to fill this void was to collect as much information as possible could prior to other family members passing away, which has already taken place.

A year ago I completed this project with the publication of the 2-volume, Plioplys: The History.  There was a tremendous amount of important information about family relatives that I was able to discover, all of which was previously unknown. I will not mention any of that here, except for one newly uncovered fact: my paternal uncle, Father Vaclovas Gutauskas (1913-2003), a Lithuanian Jesuit priest, was responsible for raising all of the funds to build the Lithuanian Youth Center, the adjoining chapel, and the Jesuit monastery in Chicago. This complex of buildings is one of the greatest accomplishments of the Lithuanian emigrant community—all due to the efforts of this one person, my uncle.

I organized an exhibit of photographs taken by Albinas Elskus and Algimantas Kezys to honor Gutauskas. The exhibit took place at the Lithuanian Youth Center, which Gutauskas built, and was up from November 2017, through January 2018.

At the opening of the exhibit, in attendance were Lithuania’s ambassador to the US, Lithuania’s Consul General to Chicago, an elected member of Lithuania’s parliament, amongst many others.

This exhibit is now touring Lithuania. An opening took place at the Valdas Adamkus Presidential Library, Vytautas Magnus University, in Kaunas, Lithuania, on January 31, 2018. Already we have plans for this show to travel to the city of Marijampole and to the Martynas Mazvydas Library in Vilnius. Many other additional locations are foreseen.

My explanation of the background of this exhibit can be viewed on a YouTube video by clicking here. My presentation is in Lithuanian.

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Marija Gimbutas Memorial Lecture: Marija Rediviva

Gimbutas and Renfrew

Marija Gimbutas (1921-1994) was a world-famous archeologist. She uncovered and described an ancient European civilization which predated the arrival of Indo-Europeans. This culture was matri-focal, agrarian and peaceful. They worshiped what Gimbutas called, the Mother Goddess.

She also promulgated a theory of where Indo-Europeans originated. She felt that they arose from the Caucuses and called her theory the Kurgan Hypothesis.

The most prominent living archeologist is Lord Coli Renfrew, of Cambridge University in England. He and Gimbutas were close colleagues and friends, doing research together, and publishing books together. Then, Lord Renfrew started to criticize Gimbutas, at times severely, about her Kurgan Hypothesis.

In reviewing the bases for these theories, I found out that after emigrating from post-World War II Lithuania, to Boston, she suffered incredible discrimination, both for being a woman, and for being an immigrant. I realized that I had to honor her strength, courage and stamina.

This led to my organizing the Marija Gimbutas Memorial Lecture at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. I also financed this venture. The invited speaker was Lord Renfrew. According to the latest genetic research results, it turns out that Gimbutas was correct, not he. Thus, the title of the talk was “rediviva”, meaning rediscovered.

This historic presentation took place on November 8, 2017. The Breasted lecture hall was packed with standing room only. No one in attendance had seen such a large turnout for an Oriental Institute lecture.

My explanatory comments and Lord Renfrew’s entire presentation can be viewed on YouTube by clicking here.

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Beverly Art Walk: paintings and columns

BAC installation April 2015 sm 800

Columns of Thought on display at the Beverly Art Center

The annual Beverly Art Walk took place on October 7, 2017. A total of five of my art works were showcased: three light sculptures and two large-scale paintings. They were (and continue to be) on display at the Beverly Arts Center in Chicago.

The light sculptures are from the series Columns of Thought. They were placed on top of the counter located in the entrance of the building. Thus, everyone entering or leaving the Art Center saw these pieces.

The two paintings, each 5 x 12 feet in size, were displayed in the stairwell leading up to the second floor. They are entitled Culture / Center / Memory, and Burial Rites / Symphony / Memory. Both are from the Memory series and further information can be found in the art gallery section of my website.

Below: Culture / Center / Memory

Culture (Center) 1000

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Cosmic Consciousness at an International Hittite Conference

OI Exhibit 1 ACosmic Consciousness on display during the Hittite Conference at the Oriental Institute.

Every four years, an international Hittite Conference is organized. This year it took place at the Oriental Institute (University of Chicago). I was invited to give a talk explaining my two paintings, Veil and Cassiopeia. Both of them deal with origins of Indo-European culture and include several hundred photographs from Hittite excavations sites in central Turkey, which I took. The Hittite language is the oldest known Indo-European language. The Oriental Institute has an ongoing multi-year project of compiling a Hittite Dictionary.

The conference itself took place from August 28 through September 1, 2017. My talk was the last presentation of the day, in the afternoon of August 30. I was afraid that my late afternoon talk would be sparsely attended. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see almost all of the 200 attendees at my talk.  It appears that they had gotten weary of scientific discussions and wanted to hear something artistic.

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Cosmic Consciousness at the Oriental Institute

OI Instalation 1Cosmic Consciousness is being installed.

Cosmic Consciousness is a series of two paintings on canvas, Veil and Cassiopeia. Each piece is 10 x 20 feet in size. They were fist exhibited as part of an art exhibit commissioned by the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel (University of Chicago) in 2013. They were installed at the Oriental Institute (University of Chicago) on August 14, 2017. The exhibit was up until September 30, 2017.

These re-installed art works appeared in a building located on the same city block as where they were originally exhibited. Truly astounding!

Further information about these pieces can be found in the art gallery section of my website.

Below: since 1937, when the Oriental Institute was established, Henry Breasted’s portrait has been hanging in Breasted Hall. He is the founder of the Institute. For this exhibit, his portrait had to be taken down, for the first time.

Removing Breasted

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Plioplys surname: 1561, Martynas Mazvydas, revolutionary activities

market square smI am standing on the corner of Market Square which in 1561 was owned by Jurgis (George) Plioplys. Virbalis, Lithuania. May, 2017.

In 2017 I completed a project that I started in 1976. For four decades, I collected family information. Finally, this resulted in a 2-volume book Plioplys: The History. The background information that I amassed was truly amazing and unexpected.

Amongst some of the highlights are the facts that Plioplys family members actively participated in political revolutions. They were involved in the anti-Czarist uprisings of 1863 and 1905. From 1865 through 1905, the Czar prohibited publishing books and newspapers in the Lithuanian language. Plioplys family members were very active in smuggling Lithuanian books and periodicals from Prussia. These were printed in Prussia and distributed across Lithuania.

Perhaps the most stunning finding was that I was able to trace the Plioplys surname back to 1561. This document lists all of the residents of the town of Virbalis, Lithuania. It includes their property ownerships and locations of all of these lots of land.

This city was located 2 miles from the Prussian border. Most likely the Plioplys surname is of Prussian origin. There were at least 6 Plioplys family households in Virbalis.

The land holdings of the Plioplys family members were exceeded only by those of Lord Wietrzinski. Plioplys family members owned 8.7% of the city’s land, the church and pastor 4.8%, and the Lord 16%. It is of interest that Plioplys family members owned twice as much land as the church and the rector combined.

Martynas Mazvydas, a Lutheran minister, was a next-door neighbor of many of the Plioplys family households. Almost certainly he was a close family friend. Mazvydas is very important in Lithuanian history as one of the fathers of the Protestant Reformation and, most importantly, for publishing the first book in the Lithuanian language in 1547. Almost certainly, the Plioplys family households were Lutherans at that time.

In 1561, and subsequently, Plioplys family members were free landowners. Serfdom was only abolished in Lithuania in 1861. Compared to the overwhelming number of families ruled by serfdom, Plioplys family members were distinguished as being part of a small number of free landowners.

The amount of real estate taxes paid by Plioplys family members can be determined. Converting into current US dollars, the total annual tax paid was $20,474. The annual tax per acre of city land was $137, and for outlying farmed land, $82. Two Plioplys family members owned beer taverns with an annual tax of $3,480. The city of Virbalis, with a presumed population of 4,000, had 113 alcohol serving taverns! It was to the government’s financial advantage to encourage the establishment of taverns. These monetary sums must be put into perspective. The costs of common items were: one egg $6, a chicken $58, a shirt $230, a pair of shoes $400, and a sheep-skin coat $1,400. (Farmers would have grown most of their own food, and manufactured their own clothing.)

I am very proud of all this material. If it were not for four decades of my dedication, none of this information about the Plioplys family lineage would be known.

Below: I am standing where Motiejus (Mathew) Plioplys had his residence on Punsko Street (now called Birute Street). Across the street was the residence of Martynas Mazvydas, a Lutheran priest who was the author of the first book published in the Lithuanian language. May, 2017.Motiejus

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