“Art without borders” – this is the name of a recent book written by Victoria Averbukh. She is a professional journalist and writer, and she shares with her readers the stories of life and creative development of seven remarkable women who are artists and designers .
What makes these stories so remarkable? Why did we decide to talk about the book and its author?
The thing is that the core idea of the book has close correlation with the main theme of our project: the construction of “ bridges” – cultural connections and creative contacts, which allow people to overcome various obstacles and barriers, whether they are language, geographic, cultural, or professional ones.
All the stories presented in the book are the stories of challenges and success. They tell us about Masters, who having been born in one country, were able to succeed in another one. All of them eventually managed to find the synergy of intercultural enrichment, which inspires them to create beautiful works which are paintings, drawings and bead and stone decorations.
About the Author: Victoria graduated from the journalism faculty of the Moscow State University. She worked for “Moskovsky Komsomolets”, “Izvetiya”, “Rossiyskaya Gazeta” newspapers, and was the editor-in-chief of the “Community Life” magazine. She currently resides in New York, USA, and like the women she told about in her book she continues her professional career in a new environment.
– Victoria, why did you decide to undertake this project and to write about the experience of women , who are trying to find themselves in a new cultural environment?
– First of all, it was very important for me, as a woman, as a creative person, to understand, whether you can fulfill your dreams in the new country or you should drop everything and go to retrain as more marketable but unloved specialty? How difficult is it for a woman to be true to her dream, being in a foreign country, experiencing an acute shortage of communication (because not all my heroines originally knew English), how to combine creative freedom with the house and child care? While writing this book, I talked with many artists from different states – unfortunately, not all the conversations were included in the book. One woman, whom I talked to, has said great words: “For 40 years I was dreaming to become a sculptor. In new reality I was learning different things and worked as a nurse, while at one point I told myself: enough is enough. Now I am 80 years old, and I regret only one thing: that I lost those 40 years.”
– What was the main thing you discovered – unexpectedly or expectedly – while working on the book?
– I didn’t expect such a great interest to my work from those Americans who learned about the project. They were often asking me how things were going on, which artists did I talk to, and they bear me up, and praised all the works done by my heroines, even though Russian art differs from the USA one – by the way, we are also arguing about this in the book. It was very nice. And the unpleasant discovery was the way that many Russian-speaking artists behaved. Some of them refused to participate for free in the project, asking for money – even though the book was charitable and I also worked for free as we got money only for publishing from a fund. Someone said that it is impossible to gather different genres and art under one cover – it should be only painting or sculpture, for example. I strongly disagree with that. Yes, there is an approach in Russian (Soviet) art school that various products of beads and stones, batik, dolls are not an art, it is craft only. But what about Palekh and Fedoskino painting, Khokhloma or Dymkovo pottery toys – are they art or craft? So I expected more support from the Russian-speaking community, and certainly did not expect any support from the Americans from the very beginning – but it turned out quite the opposite.
– Many artists consider trying new surroundings; they wish to present their works to the broad audience not only in their home country, but also internationally. What advice would you suggest them?
– I think it’s better to do something you like, so you will not regret later about not doing it. Finally, you can always say to yourself, “Well, at least I tried.” For example, after I first met with the artists from Alexandria – Zoya Gutina, Anya Yakubovskaya – I really wanted to write about them. I was dreaming about this book. And I was naturally afraid that I will not find time to write, or I will not find money for that book, or that this publication will not be interesting for anyone. But I think artists should not have fear at all. It is particularly true for New York or Washington, DC, where a lot of diplomats and United Nations staff from all over the world live, and for Philadelphia, which is generally considered to be the most “artistic” city in America, and for Miami, and for California, where a lot of tourists come from different countries and where people are interested in what is happening in the world. This is an ideal environment, and an exceptional opportunity for an artist to show what he or she feels.
– Do you want to write a new book to continue your work in the same direction? Who can become the hero of your new publications?
– Yes, I think I’ll be writing about our creative compatriots; I feel that works by Russian artists are unfortunately undervalued. Americans surely know such prominent figures as Ernst Neizvestny, but new artists and designers are almost unknown for public. At the same time, the interest exists. There is the Bronx Council on the Arts in the borough I live in, and they really liked my book. Now we are working together on a project to have the Day of Russian Culture festival.
Photos by Vadim Massalky