Sofia Liashcheva
University of California - Berkeley

Art statement:

Through art, I am greatly motivated by the profound connection between the past and present. Contemporary ideas are built upon precedent ideas, discoveries, beliefs and superstitions. Similarly, the modern and traditional motifs and patterns I utilize in my art are just as dependent on what has already been created whether by nature or folk artists that came before me. Researching Slavic folk art, the spiritual realms of ceremonies and rituals, and mythology allows me to reconnect with my ancestral culture of the Russian people. Through my artistic practice, I decontextualize and reconstruct my cultural beliefs and illustrate them while adding a contemporary twist.

One of my brightest childhood memories is the Slavic folk tales that my mother would read to me before bed -- it was our ritual that was repeated every night. As I grew, the characters and motifs of those beloved bedtime stories became increasingly fascinating, which led me to study Slavic mythology in greater depth. I realized that mythology has deep cultural roots, making each story eerie and mysterious. Mythology is the beginning of all cultural beginnings.

The purpose of my portfolio is to depict Slavic mythological creatures through the lens of my younger self, illustrating imaginative bird characters and mythological deities, while using the folk art from the land I come from. Throughout my inquiry, I explored a variety of visionary symbols to develop my idea. I utilized bells as a symbol for the sound of my mother’s soothing voice. Then, to demonstrate the cultural origin, I coupled traditional Russian patterns, such as khokhloma and gzel, with intricate, more modern, repetitive patterns, and chose textured subjects and backgrounds to emphasize the stark contrast between the natural texture of animate characters and inanimate objects.