Trying to grasp and then throw light on the unfathomable; capturing the harsh and beautiful stories of people from our past and present is an integral part of me. We are surrounded at once by intense beauty and vitality and yet, at times, darkness and fragility take over. It’s so hard sometimes to grasp the implausible hardships people endure, but more unbelievable to me is their inextinguishable hope and will to survive. They persist.
These formative experiences along with the stories of my Ukrainian heritage developed my curiosity about Canada’s pioneering past and impelled the use of historical subject matter in my work. At the hand of researching the history of my great-great-grandparents who came to Canada during the First Wave, (1891-1914), I discovered that the motivations for migration and the hardships that immigrants faced, are comparable to what some Canadian immigrants face today, especially in our current political environment.
Though at times the figure is my focus, I am also drawn to abandoned places and buildings because they too speak of people. Disconcerted characters and lonely entities documented within my mixed media paintings, sculptures and translucent hangings, are partially exposed and brought back to being. I often intensely research the histories of people, places and particular events and by revealing the past I have realized how strongly it speaks of the present. I progressively explore and experiment with different materials and methods of rendering and presenting these portrayals. The hope is that the unusual and unique components and techniques will create interest and delight, causing viewers to pause longer and thus communicate the message in a more meaningful and successful way. Some methods I have developed are: distinctive plaster on canvas etchings, embossed paper, large hanging embossed skins and hand-rusted sheet metal pieces.
Every abandoned farm is a place of memory, a history of forgotten lives. Sonya grew up on the edges of small prairie towns where she and her dog would roam freely across fields in search of adventure, discovering empty homesteads and the treasures they would surely find there. These experiences, combined with the stories of her Ukrainian heritage, developed her curiosity about Canada’s pioneering past and use of historical subject matter and discarded objects in her work.
Sonya is a self-taught mixed media artist working in Vancouver, BC. Initially, she was a graphic designer and illustrator but her true calling was to create fine art. Her current focus is public art; both commissioned pieces and gallery installations as well as teaching mixed media classes and private lessons to adults.
Her work has been shown in galleries across Western Canada.