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Catching up With Interdisciplinary Artist, Alison Klymchuk

Alison Klymchuk (she/her) is a Ukrainian-Canadian interdisciplinary artist, born on Treaty 13 land in Tkaronto. I completed my BFA with a minor in Art History at the University of Victoria in British Columbia and have been based between Toronto and Berlin ever since.

Her work is focused on expanded forms of painting, sculpture, installation, photography and urban intervention – her process process organically evolving through the dynamics of observing and mapping the city spaces she’s lived in, paying close attention to their social culture and power structures.

As a woman in the creative sector, I have learned to be unapologetically “me”, celebrating my intuition and firmly wearing my heart on my sleeve. It took me a lifetime to learn that womanhood is anything and everything I want it to be—a boundless identity that flourishes when unrestricted and unsuppressed. Honouring my female ancestors and learning about their resilience in the face of oppression is a huge part of this process.

She adds that she attributes this inspiration it to the women in her life for teaching her the values of vulnerability, authenticity and love in the creative world.

“During my postsecondary degree, I was surrounded by a female-dominated classroom that courageously defied the systems and rules historically set in stone by men. Our resistance manifested in community, empathy, communication and shared experience, ultimately paving the way for inclusivity across the board. After graduation, I found myself surrounded by few female leaders, but the ones I did encounter became my muses, inspiring me to find my voice through bravery and assertion. The men in my life taught me to analyze, adapt to conventions, and then to subvert them in order to ‘make it in the art world’.

Her most recent work, every little big life, was featured at Artscape Daniels Launchpad, and was created as a response to the Russian invasion in Ukraine.

“It was born out of a deep sense of grief after losing my family to the war and having our ancestral home in Makariv shelled to rubble along with our great-great-grandmother’s heirlooms. Struggling to make peace with the shattered, I turned to the memories of my paternal grandmother’s apartment in Kyiv, a “Brezhnevka” that still stands today,” she said.

“I recalled spending hours on her balcony looking at every single window, every little big life, sending messages in paper planes hoping they would reach the other side. These apartments hold a vast array of people, heirlooms and lived experiences that embody the complexity of Ukrainian culture.”

Drawing from a personal photograph, she reconstructed the 9-storey Brezhnevka that faced her grandparents’ apartment into a fictional pair of 48-storey condos using laser print, charcoal and paint on a found wood pallet. She added that the exhibition as a whole is intended to prompt reflection on our engagement with cultural conservation, placing emphasis on valuing a sense of ‘home’ in our cities.

“At Daniels Spectrum, I found a safe space to root further into my Ukrainian heritage and bring light to the devastations that Ukrainians are facing worldwide. I had intimate conversations with friends and people from all walks of life, discovering shared understandings of what ‘home’ means to us, while reflecting on what is left and lost in Ukraine, Toronto and beyond. My maternal grandmother and dear friend Nadia witnessed my work in the flesh for the first time, followed by a visit from my sister and mother. Sharing this space with the Ukrainian women in my life transformed my world, as we restored our own little home, if only for a breath in time.”

To learn more about Alison, check out the links below.

Instagram: @alisonklymchuk


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