LESIA MARUSCHAK (Ottawa, Canada)
LESIA MARUSCHAK (b. 1961) is a Canadian artist who comes to photography with a background as an art collector, curator, and educator. Her unique artistic language – fotomorfia – results in photography-based artworks printed on Japanese paper or fabric, hand-painted with egg tempera, natural and mineral pigments, wax and damar resin. Haunting imagery defines her practice which explores the confluence of space and time and issues of identity, mortality, and collective memory.
Exhibiting across Canada, the US and internationally, notable exhibitions include the Kyiv Museum of History (Kyiv, Ukraine), Copenhagen Photography Festival (Copenhagen, Denmark), and Phoenix Art Museum. Collections holding her works include the 24 Sussex (Prime Minister of Canada’s Residence), Archives Canada, Phoenix Art Museum. Awards and accolades include being shortlisted for the prestigious 2017 Hariban Award, 2017 10th International Color Awards (Nominee Nature Category), 2016 Chelsea International Art Competition Prize Winner, (New York, USA), Governor General of Canada’s Sovereign Medal. Publications covering her work include Dodho, The Handmade Magazine, and ArtMaz Mag.
Peter Lindbergh states: “I very much admire the honesty in your work and I do feel your love and empathy in all your photographs I know and love.”
Maruschak gained an MA in ethnography and MBA.
Lesia Maruschak lives and works in Ottawa and Alvena, Canada.
WALKING: MOVING EACH OTHER FORWARD
The idea of WALKING: moving each other forward goes beyond the concepts of movement and rhythm. The definition of the word walking points to the action of putting one foot in front of the other, moving someone or something forward. The works – unveiled in reworked and reprocessed deteriorating and damaged photographs, intertwined with Canadian and Danish landscapes – are printed on handmade Japanese paper, painted with ash from a sacred space and wax. Select images are stamped with a representation of my thumbprint as it to point to my existence. Yet, it is the par hazard application of the ancient egg tempera with a red pigment which is spread with my breath that points to the uncertainly of life. This is my unique artistic language names – fotomorfia. Each image is embroidered with a simple silk black “X” and some bear my red thumbprint. As if to say – I am lost and I am found.
My diagnosis with an incurable blood cancer changed my life. I stood at a precipice – the continuous thread between my present-day self and the one who was before was severed. We were identical in height and eye color, but as time would show not in social stature, beliefs, circle of friends, not even the cells of our bodies. There was unbridgeable lacuna between us. A journey of “making of sense” – artistry – to once again weave together the fibers of my life had begun. The journey presented in WALKING hints at the stories, experiences and memories of my life: the fear of being lost as a child, the rhythm of the sea and the mountains, and my love of family and home. I work to share the beautiful uncertainty and the moments of relationships, remembrance, loss and shifting identity and the fundamental question of “Who Am I?” WALKING is an inward journey – one common to wo/mankind – of the losses and graces experienced when we are severed from ourselves and the journey taken on the way forward.
The first photograph of the series is an image of a unique print as described above. All others are straight jpgs prior to hand-finishing and printing.
Practice Statement: How does photographing on film (or using your material photographic process of predilection) inform your artistic practice?
Maruschak uses film images in her artwork to access space and time passed. The works are subject to the artist’s unique artistic language entitled fotomorfia. Fotomorfia is a laborious process which serves to distance the source material from its context of origin, infuse the final images with time embedded uncertainty and transform form through light, color, and with the making of marks and creating auras. This mode reflects the artist’s passion for experimentation, uncertainty and interest in dissolving the boundaries between painting and film photography, underscoring how the accuracy of memories can shift and pushing Roland Barthes notion of a “flat death”.
The film source material points to a time specific means of capturing moving light and passing time. Maruschak takes these and transforms the images into microscopic cinematic universe where the seer is invited to rearrange the images whose source content is individual and universal, fact and fiction. The seer may construct his own movie. Maruschak also challenges the static nature of art exhibitions and proposes that the seer curate the meaning. Historical film materials provide a foundation for this world of faction and fiction like no other.