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 Nataliya Slinko

June-July 2009

About the artist
Trained as a painter and designer Slinko spent the last three years concentrating in sculpture. She is interested in art that has character and oversteps its own boundaries. Irony is a common thread in Slinko’s work, weaving together unlikely combinations of rigid and limp, digital and handmade, proper and incongruous, humorous and unsettling. She uses various materials and processes ranging from casting sugar to sewing felt, working with expandable foam and bronze. Slinko sources her inspiration form philosophy, science, good old humor, and her Soviet childhood. Slinko has received residencies from VCU Sculpture and Extended Media, Sculpture Space, Center for Emerging Visual Artists, and Henry Street Settlement. Slinko is currently a graduate student at VCU Sculpture and Extended Media program, and a Jacob. K. Javits Fellow.

Project Description
“I explored Utica and its hidden beauty while in residence. This experience, without a doubt, enhanced my artistic practice. Sculpture Space offered a place for research, contemplation and work, and an amazing community. I left with an overwhelming amount of working material and lasting friendships.”

Her You Are Here public art project involves unused structures throughout Utica. Using buildings as art objects, You Are Here subtly explores ideas of artistic ownership and historical context. Slinko installed crisp enlarged labels, produced specifically for each building. Presented in museum style, each label lists the artist’s name, date of the work and materials, as well as factual information about Utica downloaded from the Internet. By placing these labels directly on the buildings and within the cityscape, You Are Here eclipses the gap between the city’s everyday reality and artistic production, raising questions about boundaries, scale, ownership and context. The poignant labels are still in place.

“No one has ever put something beautiful in our neighbor­hood,” one passerby commented about the billboard-sized glacial mountain range Slinko installed near Oneida Square.

Carefully exploring the environs during her workstay, Slinko also developed video projects inspired by Old Main, a magnificent 19th-century colonnaded building, originally the Lunatic Asylum. She also researched playful interventions to address city street potholes and cracks.

Artist statement:
My work is informed by the contradictions inherent in human nature and by our capacity for creating meaning. Throughout the history, contradictions have shaped our cultures, and given us universal concepts of right and wrong through which we filter all our experiences. The ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, however, are never too clear to tell apart, and meaning is often a shifting platform, a raft in a moody ocean of ideas. I’m interested in creating art that arrives at its existence through a set of flawed decisions and inappropriate methods, yet, feels as if it’s the only way it could exist. I’m interested in the ‘wrong’ art, something that doesn’t live comfortably within the established frameworks, something that disrupts certain expectations. Often my work explores conflicting ideas that coexist or share a symbiotic relationship, instances that make opposing qualities inseparable and hard to classify. I, however, avoid obvious dichotomies, I prefer to stay in a place where old symbolic meanings surrender themselves to irony. This interest in contradictions predefines the way in which the actual work is conceived and produced. Rigid structures are made from soft material, digitally conceived images become handmade, and the intangible achieves physical form. There are never any established modes of production, or preferred methods. Because the pieces cannot find resolution on their own, the task is passed onto the viewer to ponder over conflicting emotions. Rather than commanding “black and white” kinds of judgments, my work asks that notions of re-conciliation, co-existence and acceptance be considered within the never-ending contradictions of human nature.