Painting Is a Family Affair for Artist

Article excerpt

The Hungarian-born artist does her protesting on canvas: a bulldozer razing a Transylvanian village, its townspeople held captive in military camps.

Edit A'rvay Sayko's drawing, titled "Homage to Transylvania," along with other activism for those interned or homeless, helped to rally support against the communist tyranny in Transylvania in 1989. Although Transylvania is in Romania, it once belonged to Hungary and has a Hungarian population.

Her "Homage" and other works, including paintings from three generations of her family, can be seen in the exhibit, "My Clan," from May 24 through June 11 at Gallery West, 205 S. Union St., Alexandria.

For more than 50 years, the works of Hungarian artists have reflected the political and social problems of the country, which until 1989 was ruled by Communists.

The Hyattsville resident counts herself among those artists whose efforts brought attention to the human rights abuses in her native country.

"My Hungarian heritage is a great wealth of inspiration for me and my family," she says.

During the 1950s, many artists expressed in their works the people's hatred of Stalinist rule. Many of these artists were among the 200,000 who had to flee Hungary after Soviet forces entered Budapest in November 1956 and crushed the popular revolt. At the time, Mrs. Sayko was only a child and her father, a Budapest freight station manager, was an amateur artist.

When the Communists began relaxing restrictions on Hungary's culture in the 1960s, Mrs. Sayko joined other artists in testing this new freedom.

She was formally trained in Hungary and Italy and moved to the United States in 1970 after meeting and marrying her Hungarian-American husband, Arpad Sr., who worked as an engineer for National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

In the United States, she quickly grabbed on to the academic American dream. Mrs. Sayko received an associate's degree in fine arts from Prince George's Community College and two bachelor's degrees from the University of Maryland at College Park (one in applied design in 1980 and another in education in 1982). She also received a master's degree in education at UMd. and is now pursuing a doctorate in education at the university.

Today, she teaches graphic design to inmates at the Maryland Correctional Training Center in Hagerstown.

"I guess I was born an artist. I don't remember not being interested," says Mrs. Sayko, 50, who is also a professional sculptor.

In some families, traditions are passed from one generation to another - a special recipe, a holiday ritual or a family business. …