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Vanda Kanyte-Balukas was born on April 1, 1923, into a family of a railroadman in Siauliai, Lithuania. She attended primary school in Siauliai, but moved and attended high school first in Veiveriai and then in Kaunas, where she graduated. Vanda was exposed to art at an early age in her own family, where both her father and especially her sister had artistic talents and were engaged in artful pursuits. However, when it was time for her to choose a curriculum for her own higher education, being full of the sense of national duty, she chose to enter the department of Lithuanian philology. It did not take long for Vanda to realize that she had made a mistake and after one year she switched to the study of painting at the Vilnius Academy of Fine Arts. When the German occupational authorities closed all the acadamies of higher learning in Vilnius in March of 1943, Vanda attended a year of clandestine after hours painting classes held at the Vilnius Museum of Fine Art by Adolfas Valeska, the museum's director. In 1944, Vanda moved to Vienna where she joined and toured with the Lithuanian Folk Ensemble Ciurlionis.
After World War II, when the Ecole des Arts et Metiers (School of Applied Arts) was organized by Vytautas K. Jonynas in Freiburg, Germany, Vanda continued her study of painting and after 2 years graduated with a diploma. In Freiburg she met and married Dr. Gediminas Balukas in 1947.
In 1949, the Balukas family immigrated to the United States, staying in New York for one year and then settling in Chicago. Vanda found the art scene in the U.S. very exciting and very different from the one she was familiar with in Europe. She sought additional training in painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago, graduating with an Associate degree in 1969.
Vanda's painting was all figurative until 1971, when she started her series of abstract paintings dedicated to Lithuanian weavers and painted on Lithuanian patterned linen fabrics. These abstract paintings, which are numbered sequentially and usually have no other titles, have become her preferred and unique style of artistic self-expression. Functional objects such as linen tablecloths, bedspreads, and tablerunners are transformed into art.
Beside her own painting, Vanda contributed to the Lithuanian artist community in Chicago by working as the director of the Ciurlionis Lithuanian Art Gallery from 1971 to 1973 and as the chair of the Lithuanian Women Artists Association from 1971 to 1977, an organization of which she was one of the founding members.
After many years in Chicago, Vanda Balukas relocated to Beverly Shores, Michigan, in 1987, and to Tucson, Arizona, in 1997, where she resided until her death on February 22, 2004.
Vanda's art works were exhibited in Chicago, New York, New Haven, Michigan City, Berkeley College at Yale University, and other locations.
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