Exhibit showing - November through February 26, 1999
"From the beginning of my life I have been influenced by Ukrainian folklore and am thoroughly enchanted with it. All my creativity is steeped with this Ukrainian character, its specific individuality, mystery. Much of Ukraine's culture is expressed in its folklore, ancient and colorful. Often, when I admire the color intensity and the composition in contemporary art of the Western world, I come to the conclusion that I have seen it before.... in Ukrainian Easter eggs, icons, embroideries, and pottery. In Ukrainian folk art I can also see the elements of Cubism, Op-Art, Minimalism, and other modern art movements.
"Through the ages Ukrainian folk art was destroyed and/or appropriated by other cultures. In my art I am trying to delineate ours from others. When I exhibit my work in America, people often ask, 'Is this Mexican? Indian? Russian?' The world does not know us. We did not have independence. Constant proof is needed that Ukraine is a country and has a rich and unique culture. This way we give proof of the irrevocability and originality of who we are. The leadership of Ukraine will unite the people by making them aware of their national identity. Past political regimes repressed the Ukrainian spirit. However, thanks to God there are still Ukrainian families nurturing their Ulkrainian traditions. When my family emigrated to America, we held strongly to our 'Ukrainian-ness'; there was no repression.
"In my childhood, my uncle, my mother's brother, Demian Elyjiw, taught us about our past. He took us to cemeteries where we made pencil rubbings from gravestones and studied the ornamentation. He told us about the architecture of Ukrainian wooden churches, the pointed onion-shaped roofs, the crosses, and bells. In my family there was, and still is, a love for pottery. I remember entering the house of Olena, my father's mother; hanging above the doors were white ceramic plates decorated with roosters, chickens, and flowers. My mother's father, Konstantine Elyjiw, owned a small brick factory in Kopyczyncl. In my childhood all the activities that took place there were secretive and mysterious. It was a place of fire, a place where goblins lived.
"Even still today, in my memory, I preserve the activities of the Easter season, when the family was decorating eggs. It was an uplifting experience... Decorating Easter Eggs was handed down from generation to generation. Today my American grandchildren follow this tradition; each egg they decorate brings pleasure to me. For them Ukraine is an abstract fairy place where their grandmother spent her childhood.
"Often the fate of immigration is assimilation. However, I know that many English-speaking Ukrainian families preserve the beauty and traditions of their Ukrainian heritage.
"Each time I am in Ukraine I visit museums and always discover something new. I am interested in our past and our contemporary art, I am impressed with the richness of the ornamentation on Easter eggs, embroidery, pottery, woodcarving and other objects. I am looking at these things not as an art critic, but as an artist, who is trying to know herself through creativity. All those old coins, shirts, coverlets, sheepskin vests are bound together and tell me something mysterious that guides me in my work and life."
Aka Bohumyla Pereyma
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