Remnants of Memory - Rags and Riches
- Wed Oct 21 - Sun Nov 08
Fibre Art by Sonia Jacyk-Bukata. Falls Gallery. Opening Reception: Saturday, October 24, 2:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Walking into the Falls Gallery to see contemporary fiber artist, Sonia Jacyk-Bukata’s show, Remnants Of Memory: Rags & Riches is like stepping into a dream. Her hand stitched kimono style coats, influenced by Japanese ‘boro’ fabric, have their own narrative with little bits of the artist’s identity hidden in each one. The gallery is truly transformed into a surreal space by the powerful presence of Bukata’s coats; its as if the room is energized full of people hanging, looming, waiting, each with their own story to tell.
The inspiration behind Bukata’s coats is the Japanese concept of ‘boro’ fabric. Translated, the term ‘boro’ means rags or scraps of cloth. It is used to describe clothes or household items that have been patched up and repaired many times; this is strongly reflected in Bukata’s work. All the materials interlaced to compose her coats are found materials from her studio and everyday life. Nothing is brand new and everything has a meaning to the artist. Bukata uses scraps/ experimental pieces of indigo dyed fabric from workshops she has participated in, a part of the creative process that has contributed to where her work is today. Although Bukata’s coats are contemporary works of art, they look as if they are artifacts with many years behind them, which is in line with the concept of ‘boro’ as traditionally garments created using ‘boro’ fabric were often passed down from generation to generation. The photo transfers used in her work include poster images, passages from books and photographs many of which are related to the horrific episodes in Ukraine’s history during Stalin’s rule: the famine and mass executions. It is the combination of different fabrics, materials and unusual juxtapositions in the photo transfers that enhance the Assemblage and Surrealist aspects of her works.
Bukata’s experience as a collage artist earlier in her career definitely comes through in her work as a fiber artist. Her mystical coats are ‘assemblages’ of three dimensional elements such as keys, fabrics, threads, and photographs layered on top of recycled flannel lining which acts as her canvas; much like in her two dimensional collages. Unlike traditional kimonos that use fine silks and delicate stitching, Bukata’s works show much more spontaneity in the way they are put together. No measurements, no planning, simply letting go and allowing the fabric to be. Bukata believes this is a more truthful, intimate way of creating art; an outlook vital to her creative process due to her experience with intuitive painting and its teachings. Intuitive painting is the practice of meditating with a brush in your hand. As you release your attachment to judgment and planning the practice allows you to be present and self-aware. By creating these coats, Bukata is allowing herself to be vulnerable. She is not caught up in trying to make the pieces look “beautiful” but instead staying true to the message she wants to convey, which is essential to the growth of an artist. In addition to influences of Assemblage art, there is the common theme of Surrealism that ties the body of work together.
As you make you way around the gallery and are drawn in closer to the open arms of the coats, you begin to discover the dream-like peculiarities of the images depicted. For example, within a coat you can find a photo of flowers, and the words “dream” and “friendship” placed beside a photograph of a dying, starving man (piece entitled Hanging By A Thread). These images seem to have no connection until you look at the coat hanging to the right of the piece. Images of wheat and excerpts of textbook writings on the components of wheat adorn the entire coat, which is titled Wheat Everywhere (nothing to eat). This then takes you back to the image of the starving man. Speaking with Bukata I learned that during and after the famine in Ukraine, the government did not let people or Western media into the villages but instead painted the sides of barns that lined the villages with beautiful pastoral images. This was what the media and others saw, a cover up. This ties back to the images of flowers and the words “dream” and “friendship” on the same coat as the starving man; feeding images giving the impression that everything is perfectly fine when in all actuality it is far from so. It is this mix of unusual juxtapositions that creates feelings of uneasiness and wonder, characteristic of Surrealist art.
Narratives, such as the one described above, are prevalent amongst all Bukata’s pieces. When puzzled together, each story reveals a figment of history, identity and imagination. Bukata has done a fantastic job in creating a memorable experience for the viewer and I highly recommend this show.
Remnants Of Memory: Rags & Riches is on at the Falls Gallery at the Alton Mill until November 8th 2015. Be sure to visit the gallery to see how the show has magically transformed the space into a dream where you can meet Bukata’s coats and hear what they have to say.