Artist's Statement

Lesia Maruschak

Medium: pigment print / awagami kozo paper / overpainted with egg tempera, pigments, ash / hand-brushed with wax and resin.

Image Size: 100 X 100 CM and larger

MARIA - a complex exploration of memory and its sensual expression - memorializes the more than four million victims of the 1932-33 famine in Soviet Ukraine - an event widely thought to be genocidal. At its center is a single vernacular image of a young girl who resides in Canada. In book and exhibition forms, MARIA offers diverse entry points for a broad audience and be transformative to the ways we remember this tragedy and how we relate to similar ones happening now.

In writing about the work, Alison Nordström notes: “It is tempting to call this event unimaginable, yet Maruschak has not only imagined it, but has created a series of images that manifest the ways she responds to it, intellectually and emotionally. More than many photographs, these works are objects as much as images. Whether organized in book-form or in large-scale installation, it is the materiality of these heavily worked, waxed, and pigmented things that conveys the tortuous and persistent re-visiting of the past that the artist engages in.”


The approximate 1000 square meters installation space encourages interaction, changing with audience engagement. RED, a fictional album of Maria’s life, is presented first on newsprint pads printed with fragments of the images. Varying in size, they cover 1-2 walls from floor to ceiling. Viewers are instructed to tear off pages and take them away.

Then large-scale lead-like waxen images, derived from a laborious process, are hung unglazed emphasizing their materiality and expressing the feeling of starvation. Viewers are encouraged to touch the prints and the substructure. Any deterioration in the work over time is intentional.

Finally, a labyrinth of cyanotype sculptural forms of Maria, on archival Ukrainian garments, hang from barbed wire and are pigmented with ash and waxed. A film detailing the works' creation will accompany the installation.