MARIA memorializes the victims of the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33 - Holodomor - an event widely thought to be genocidal. At its center is a single vernacular image of a young girl who survived and resides in Canada. More than four million others did not.
The work, in book and exhibition forms, presents my intellectual and emotional response, informed by current research and the stories shared by survivors in the Ukrainian Canadian community I grew up in.
The project utilizes three kinds of images from series entitled RED, TRANSFIGURATION and COUNTING. A fictional album of Maria’s life offers an illusionary sense of order while pointing to the impending horror. Lead-like images derived from a laborious process and the use of ash, pigments, parchment, wax and felt express the feeling of starvation – the body transformed into skin and bone - the spirit destroyed. An abstract representation of the ancient Salamis counting tool, explores my inability to grasp the conscious eradication of human life on such massive scales.
MARIA is more than a prosthetic memory of a modern-day atrocity or a memorial space - it is a cautionary tale to be heeded.