Your cart is empty

Shop now

Intimate Objects Transformed Into Sculptural Installations

Artist Blog by Lesia Maruschak

The intimate portraits, or “photo paintings”, small enough to fit into the palm of your hand, awaited another transformation. This one would free them from my controlled urban studios, transporting them to the poetic landscape of the Canadian prairies, my homeland.

Here the highly tangible photo paintings became larger-than-life silk textile sculptures, manifesting the ecological impacts of colonial practices - land surveying and allotment, forced removal, industrialized agriculture, and war - on the landscapes depicted, where the relationships of displaced peoples to place were examined.

In the summer of 2023, work on the sculptural landscape installation began. The silks were mounted as triptychs at four corners of the installation site, referred to as NE14-41-1-W3rd in the legal land description alpha-numeric system used in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada. The land we worked on was settled by the first immigration of Ukrainians to Canada in 1896 and remains in our family today.

We envisioned the space as if it were an enclosed gallery environment. Clear blue skies, a site so still you could hear a pin drop and a horizon which carried you to the end of the earth. Once installed on NE14-41-1-W3rd, the children’s faces would appear motionless, while birds cried, and crickets chirped.

But again, chance reigned. The skies filled with smoke, ranging in colour from seductive cotton candy pink to chiaroscuro, as the air became suffocating from more than 5,581 nearby forest fires. The silks took on a life of their own, activated by the environment. The winds were deafening, beating the silks until they were suspended parallel to the land, like a compass in the vast prairie landscape.

The palimpsest nature of our experience was disorienting. Were we hallucinating? The children’s faces appeared lit with mystical light amid the smoke-filled landscape. For a moment, you would think you saw a child moving or speaking. Here the art of animation, the very essence of the installation, helped create an ambiguous space where the land became a witness and participant, and the children, as if spiritual protectors, invited us to approach them, to enter.

And so, we did. A landscape performance ensued.