Olha Fedoruk is an artist who lives and works in the City of Lviv in western Ukraine. Her style is uniquely her own. Combining graphic art with painting, her work is multifaceted and multidimensional. I can safely say, that one would be hard pressed to find an artist working today with a creativity quite like hers. I caught up with the artist by phone to talk about her work, her creative process, and how her world view informs art work.
On her creative process.
An artist often works intuitively and isn’t guided by logic necessarily, but engages his feelings. For instance, a writer may express himself through words, a musician through notes, and an artist through painting, drawing, sculpture, or composition, but really, the work comes from his intuition, which is why perhaps, it’s difficult to describe my creative process to you.
I may be able to tell you what motivates or inspires me. It could be something I’ve seen or read, a poem for example. It could also be something that’s happening around me, either in my life or some other events occurring in the world. Sometimes these events can have a strong impact on me and my emotions and, of course, will influence my work. That’s why these things are often difficult to explain. This is especially the case for me since my work relies on feelings or the emotions of a particular moment.
After all, emotions can arise suddenly. Once I’ve had a some time to reflect I may engage with reason, but then I return again to emotion. This influences each one of my pieces differently. Some are based solely on emotion, some combine emotion with reason. It depends on what I want to portray and in what way. When I’m working on emotions, I try to capture the images I see internally, and quickly get them on canvas or paper.
Her style is uniquely her own. Combining graphic art with painting, her work is multifaceted and multidimensional.
On her education.
My training also plays a factor. For example, if I had gone to another school, I think my work would have been different. Education, methodology, these things can make a difference. Along with what you personally bring forward as an artist, there is also the knowledge and experiences that you acquire through training.
For me, this includes my education at the Ivan Trush College of Decorative and Applied Arts in Lviv. This period perhaps had more of an impact on me than when I went on to study at the Lviv Academy of Arts. Firstly, I was younger, and the approach was different. This was a formative time for me. My later education mostly helped me hone my technical skills.
I consider Trush College my alma matter. We had wonderful instructors. I would call them Teachers with a capital letter. They helped me lay a foundation for my artistic abilities. Even then they told us, you’re learning how to paint here, but not all of you will become artists. You can teach someone to paint, but you can’t teach someone to be an artist.
On the war in Eastern Ukraine.
I’m not a politician. That’s why I try to refrain from making bold statements on this subject. In addition to that, we are constantly fighting against disinformation in the media. What is happening now is like an open wound for those people who aren’t indifferent to the fate of our country and those people who are suffering because of this war. We see these horrible images of death and destruction daily and we couldn’t have imagined this before.
We all have our abilities and those of us who have the opportunity do what we can. For instance there are artists in Lviv that take part in an auctions where the proceeds go to support the Ukrainian army. We bought body armor and helmets from the money we raised selling our pieces. There is another auction coming up that will help wounded soldiers. This is a way that artists can contribute. Artist who have the desire and who are able, contribute their works and people who appreciate their work and also wish to help those who are fighting for Ukrainian independence can do their small part.
On seeking balance.
I try to strive for balance and harmony in my work, but right now with what’s going on that is becoming more and more difficult. There’s a kind of discordant or destructive force spreading throughout our world counteracting people’s inner harmony and well being. When I feel as if those forces are pulling me away from my natural balance I try to turn back to that frequency which strives for peace. I listen to recordings of classical music when I work. They say that God speaks to us through Bach, and Mozart, and other classical composers, like Vivaldi. I try to return to that, but the destructiveness of the war bears on each of us all the same. I try to resist that feeling, but the energy that carries that disharmony and destructiveness still affects me.
You can’t isolate yourself from the world. I see the world and all of us as one living organism. We are all interconnected, like the cells of a body, all of us. So that when some disquiet affects other people it passes through to us as well. You can’t escape it. You can’t fly away as if into the cosmos, you are a part of it. It’s not possible to be closed off in your own calm environment. At least I’m speaking for myself. Perhaps someone else can. That’s why, as a way to counteract this negative force I’m drawn to more spiritual modes that I strive for in my work. When you choose this subject matter it’s as if you are prompted from within as to how to approach your work. This helps me express my point of view and show where I stand, to make it clear which side I’m on.
By Danylo Terleckyj