This month’s artist spotlight features mixed media artist, Katya Grokhovsky.
Artist Name: Katya Grokhovsky
How would you describe your artwork, and what are you expressing through it?
I am, like many, an eternal migrant, and my art reflects this condition in many ways. My own personal initial geographical displacement from my native Ukraine to Australia has deeply affected not only the course of my life, but the development of the themes in my work. The issues of immigration, personal and global, my family's history, ultural and political conditioning of the life in the East and the West are the main research topics of my practice. Early on I have been deeply influenced by Russian constructivism and I consider myself a producer, a maker, who attempts, as a new immigrant might, to construct some sort of mythological present and future in each new project, failing inevitably every time. In a way, that's what keeps my work exciting to me, the promise of new discoveries through intensive research, writing, performance experimentation, photography, video, sculpture, drawing and curating. The new found "bright" futures and the failures. I call myself an interdisciplinary artist and I tend to "collage" many elements which influence me, from personal life and stories, to states of being: emotional and physical, to political events, to the plight of women in various places and times. Aesthetically, I pull from the languages of cultural cliches, dance, art history, cinema and feminist and queer symbolism.
What medium(s) do you work in?
My practice can be called hybrid and I like to mix mediums extensively. Each medium has a different meaning and use, and I accommodate it in my practice accordingly. Specifically, performance and writing tend to be the most used experimentation tools, as I can learn quickly through my body and capturing of thoughts. Drawing has accompanied my life entirely, and I tend to consider it my private medium. Each project calls for a specific discipline, and I follow that calling, from photography, digital and film, to video installations, to sometimes dance, to live performances, participatory and durational.
Unknown Heroic by Katya Grokhovsky
What inspires you?
I look at multiple sources for inspiration, but often I come back to the same ones, such as art history and other artists' work and lives. Great literature and cinema. I guess, other art, in a word, art that, yes, I shall be truly original here: moves in some little way, or makes me think, laugh. I actually cannot live without it and consider that a great virtue. Fashion is part of my background, and I still find it inspiring, although I left it as a career. I look at international Vogue magazines on weekly basis and tend to get excited by incredible photography, sets, styles and colors. I am also very inspired by my own native cultures, Russian and Ukrainian, the languages, the food, the fairy tales, the somehow magical mystical aura of my childhood. Traveling and reading are my passions, and I am never short of inspiration when I am on a journey, either physical or mental. Actually, the long distance travels, such flights to Australia and back from USA or Europe, inspire my imagination, as I adore the emptied non-space, where I am a prisoner of a vessel in flight and can dream away to be anything, be anyone.
What kind of artistic training do you have, if any?
I am a graduate of the MFA program (Sculpture) from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and I also have a BFA from Victorian College of the Arts Melbourne, Australia and a BA in Fashion from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia.
Who are your heroes (artistically and/or otherwise)?
One of my artistic heroes, whom I greatly admire and who is sadly, no longer with us is Louise Bourgeois. I remember seeing her work for the first time in my life at the Tate in London and falling terribly in love with her work, her power, her life story, holding it as an example to myself for many years as an artist, as a woman. Marina Abramovic is also someone I consider a hero and an inspiration. In general, many, many other artists, alive and dead, are truly heroes in my book, pursuing what is often considered unnecessary and foolish. On a personal level: my parents, who in one giant, heroic gesture, picked up their lives and moved to the other part of the planet earth, to give their daughter a better life and who support my art life fully.
Where do you work?
Currently, I am working from home, in my apartment in Brooklyn, where I set-up my studio. In particular, I am working on a new ongoing project, The Bedroom, which will be a series of performances, interventions and readings, created on site and for the site, that is literally my bedroom in Park Slope, by myself and other artists I will invite. This is an attempt, to broaden horizons of my practice, to crack open the closed worlds I landed into, to break the code of loneliness and silence of working alone.
How does your city/community affect your work and process?
I think geography plays a big part in the artist's work. I move around a lot and I noticed the changes in my work tend to be significant sometimes. However, that said, geography is less important these days than ever, with a click, I am in Iceland and I like that a lot. The world has been opened , for better or worse. For artists, I believe it is an advantage, as sometimes, financially it would be impossible to actually move to places you are interested in, but you can at least visit on the Internet. However, yet again, that said, there is still, nothing like being in Rome or Venice, with all your senses capturing the atmosphere, live, on site. There is still, nothing like it, and artists, I am sure, will always be influenced by their geography, community and history of the places they live in. And yes, I am a romantic.
How is your art influenced by your physical workspace?
Currently, I have a studio in my living space, it is small, and I am not able to create any big projects, unless I hire out a large space. So, yes, the space, in a way dictates the work, and sometimes it can be a blessing in an unexpected disguise. Right now, I am enjoying being in a small space, where I can concentrate, put myself in order, re-think and imagine. Only until recently, I had a large studio in graduate school, and was able to film and play around in space and the work followed the spaciousness.
How did you hear about chashama?
Mostly through the Internet, coming across it in listings and word of mouth from other artists.
Have you worked any side jobs to support your art? If so, tell us about them.
Yes, I have and mostly, I have been lucky. I worked in the art world, from an invigilator in a gallery, to an artist studio assistant to art administration to teaching assistant in graduate art school. I have never managed to hold down any other unrelated job. I lasted a day as a waitress, a few months as a clothing sales assistant, a few weeks as a fashion design assistant.
Where are you from originally, and what lead you to your current city?
I am originally from Ukraine, migrated to Australia, lived in many places and recently moved form Chicago to Brooklyn. I just decided to move for no reason, or I guess, for the same reason millions of artists moved before me and will continue to do so, I hope. The reason being, it is New York, still one of the capitals of the art world and I am a practicing artist. I moved into the mountain itself, as the mountain would never come to me, no matter how much I begged it to.
If you live in NYC, do you like it? If so, why? What's special about NYC?
I live in Brooklyn and I do love New York City. I have traveled wide and far, but once I came here a few years ago for the first time as a tourist, I fell in love. There is something about New York and despite its' heavy weight in the world, its' many problems, its' pretensions and ambitions, its prices and smells , its humid summers, its crime, I want to live here. People are actually friendlier than in many other places I have been to, and poke and you will find an artist near you. All around, there is a buzz, something is being done, something is going on and the world is running. I like that. And of course, as an artist, it is all here, still, somehow gathered in a strange furry that is New York. I actually find it relaxing, it feels like home.
Do you have a website that we can link to? If so, please provide the address.
What are some things you do to recharge? Are there any places you go? (Yoga, bars, parks, etc.)
Right now I'm enjoying living in Brooklyn, particularly walking in Prospect park, going to coffee shops and occasionally restaurants, museums, galleries. I find it relaxing going to gallery openings, because it is my world, it feels familiar, I know what to do, I belong without belonging. I'd like to get back into yoga and dancing, which are my favorite past time activities besides reading, watching movies and art making.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face personally in persevering with your art?
I think today it is financially sustaining my practice, without spending my week working somewhere else, so I can spend a few precious hours on my art in the evenings and on weekends. That is definitely a big concern, and I wish I could pay for my coffee and dinners by drawing on napkins. Perhaps, one day.