Fat Canary Journal September 2018 - Feature Artist Dasha Ziborova
Landscapes: Lost and Found
Dasha Ziborova was born in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1968. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design, from The Baron Stieglitz St. Petersburg State Academy of Art and Design. She came to United States in 1991.
Dasha is a graphic novelist, award winning illustrator and a muralist. On her list are five children’s picture books including the award-winning Crispin the Terrible published by Callaway Editions, In English, of Course and The Numbers Dance published by Gingerbread House. Other awards include Children’s Choice award from the International Reading Association, finalist for ForeWord magazine’s Book of the Year, and ABA Book Sense’s Pick of the Lists.
Besides writing and illustrating books, Dasha has created large-scale murals for The Peninsula Hotel’s New York and Chicago locations; Plaza Hotel, NY; designs for reliefs for the Waldorf Astoria, NY and designs for over 30 murals for Atlantic Center in Brooklyn.
Forgotten histories and the secret legacy of women are found in this multimedia project Landscapes: Lost and Found created with fabric art, installation, video and photography. It channels the spirit muses that inhabit the artist’s 200 year old farm house in Catskill, New York.
The story begins when the artist, a St. Petersburg native, now a New Yorker, and her family purchase a secluded upstate farm to escape the chaos of Manhattan. With a family history of lost estates (properties held by her family since the 17th century, but destroyed during the Russian revolution of 1917), and her own immigration to the US, Dasha’s family tale continues in this mysterious and inspirational wooded land.
Channeling her Novgorod ancestors, along with the ghosts of Americans (indigenous, colonial, through contemporary inhabitants of the farm), this city girl finds inspiration in the artifacts scattering the property. Layer upon layer of lives surface from the mysterious stone circles, unidentified burial grounds, discarded farm paraphernalia and Catskill resort debris. As her family grew, so did the cast of characters of Lost and Found, with the lives and role of women coming to the forefront of this project.
Landscapes: Lost and Found
Lost and Found is a work in progress. It’s a part side-specific installation, part film that takes place in a 200-year-old farm upstate that is very atmospheric and secluded. The place holds a lot of history, but not the kind one finds in history books. It is the collective history of generations that were born, lived and died on that land. The fields, lake, and woods still hold the emotional DNA of the past.
There are the remnants of old buildings and stone walls, and some Native American ruins. All these structures attributed to men, as men were usually ones who built things in a past, and who left a trace behind.
I started thinking where do the women go? Where can I find their presence, and how can I express it in my work?
As we began our new life in the country, I was often overwhelmed but the many demands facing me as mother, wife, and artist. I would often feel exasperated by the never-ending household chores. I wanted to rant, but who would listen? There is an ancient Celtic tradition that to unburdens oneself from a secret you should whisper it to a tree. I took that advice to heart, but instead of a whispering to a tree, I stitched my secrets and complaints into old found clothing. The release of my complaints was both therapeutic and liberating.
I liked the idea of secrets laid out in plain view, but rendered inaccessible. The encrypted feminine stories began to take on a life of their own. Each stitched piece of vintage dress, skirt, drawers, their meanings now forgotten even to myself, flew off to join the legacy of ghosts of the farm.
In Japan, there is a certain magic associated with stitching: the act of enclosing a body in cloth is rich in meaning and stitched garments are believed to hold power. This idea appealed to me too.
When I was a child I often felt that the past and present exist simultaneously. If I could only turn my head fast enough, I would be able to catch a glimpse of these parallel lives. I still have this feeling.
I think we women go through similar experiences over the course of our lives. This land has generations of women, who are born and died here. Even though I know very little about them, I can feel their presence. I am able to imagine their stories, those that are universal to all of us.
So much of this is about birth, nature and a woman’s role in a particular place and time. As the project continued, I began to realize the connections between mothers and daughters. It launched the idea of making two in one, their similarities, like the same person but in two different times.
Those clothing became the major props in my film where most of the characters are women and children. Some clips of this work can be found on the following links:
Still a work in progress, Lost and Found is a long and organic project that takes care of itself. It is interesting to see how it changes, and evolves, on its own over time.
Dasha Ziborova is represented by Literary Counsel.
Real Time In Ink
Real Time in Ink is a series of graphic diary entries, which cover a broad range of topics from NYC life, people, parenting, art, music, cats, food, travel, to occasional politics and scary, crazy Russians.
Chronicles of Forgotten Wars is on-going project. It consists of large scale fresco paintings on canvas and ink and watercolor drawings on the pages of Rhymes of a Red Cross Man, a book of war poems by Robert W. Service who dedicated this book to his brother, killed in action in 1916. A meditation on war and violence across times and continents. The magnificent beauty of nature is contrasted with images of soldiers fighting and dying.
Chronicles of Forgotten Wars, DVAA Narrowsburg, NY
Solo exhibition, June 15, 2019
For a printable version of this feature please click here.