Thursday, February 21, 2013


I recently had the opportunity to engage in self-directed study with art coach and artist, Steven Aimone, at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, in New Smyrna Beach, FL. I remained on campus for a few weeks, living there with two separate hand-picked groups of artists. These individuals arrived from different areas of the northern hemisphere. All of us were asked to focus on an objective, a 'mission statement' or 'contract' that would guide us over the period of study.

During the first week, I focused on Holodomor, the Ukrainian holocaust that is marked by its 80th anniversary this year. Starting with events begun in the 1920's, the Holodomor, transliterated as "Extermination by starvation", reached its brutal peak between 1932 and 1933 in the nation commonly known as the "bread basket of Europe." Although the Stalinist regime that had seized control of Ukraine's politics and government failed to keep accurate statistics on the numbers of Ukrainians killed during the fake famine it had created, historians estimate that between 5 and 12.5 million Ukrainian men, women and children were starved to death, murdered trying to escape Ukraine, or evacuated and sent to their ultimate deaths in prison camps outside the country, in places like Kazakhstan and Siberia.

Holodomor X-1932 (approx. 24X72).

My process for creating art is never deliberate: I don't start with a preconceived notion of what to paint or draw. I just react to surfaces after energetically drawing or painting into them. But the anniversary weighed heavily on my mind last week, influenced by my reading (like The Holodomor Reader by Bohdan Klid and Alexander J. Motyl,  and A Candle In Remembrance by Valentyna Borysenko) and a documentary (Genocide Revealed, directed by Yurij Luhovy).

Holdomor XI-1932 (50X60)

And that influence crept back into my work as I went along, incorporating elements like dirt and grass from the landscape. I marveled at the persistence of an ancient race that, despite every odd and centuries-old forces hell-bent on its total annihilation, has stubbornly clung to its national identity since ancient times. The Ukrainian people, like many others on this planet, are a testament to the concepts of resilience and constancy. 

After a short break, I resumed painting for another week with a different group of talented artists. I put aside my thoughts about Ukrainian history and revisited the concept of flux, this time with a lighter, playful heart.

Flux II-16-1

Flux II-15-1 (approx. 24X72)

©2013 - Patricia H. Zalisko - All rights reserved