Tanya Chutko
Medium: Drawing, Painting, Ceramic
I am an artist, a creative and cultural investigator, whose interest lies in the research of painting, cultural fairy tales, and theology. Painting itself has been my own spiritual vehicle that has led me to many transcendent self-discoveries. Within my latest work, I have been using images, as references, taken from our chaotic visual culture, particularly women in magazines. These magazine images have been distorted by computer programs, such as Photoshop, to enhance natural beauty as a marketing ploy. In turn, these images are unrealistically idealized by not only women, but also by men. I incorporate these images into my work not only because they can be attained and manipulated easily, but also, because I am fascinated by what we, as a consumer culture, find beautiful. By continuing to alter these images through my artwork, I am assisting in the process of erasing the original woman, and reinventing her through my experience. Using the idealized media image of a woman, abolishing her further and then imposing my voice, the voice of a real woman, I am essentially exploring gender identity and how women are essentially used, idealized, and in turn mass produced. Additionally, I am exploring cultural identity by merging these ideal contemporary images with images of past ideal beliefs (religious iconography). Through this process, I try to gain a new understanding of my own cultural heritage, as a contemporary Ukrainian American woman by creating and combining old and new symbolism, while producing “modern day icons.” Lately, with my artworks, I have been using birch wood as my canvas, a strong, un-malleable, natural foundation that allows me to further investigate the underlying meaning within my work. By keeping the fully rendered figures in my work bare, with the grain of the birch wood exposed, I am allowing the preservation of the raw beauty and importance of women, much like the iconic representation of religious figures. At the same time, I am continuously objectifying these symbols. Essentially, I am breaking down bits and pieces of American culture and combining them with elements from my Ukrainian cultural heritage. Additionally, I try to express subconscious thoughts, emotions, and ideas about this life, as well as the after-life, by placing women in abstract, surrealistic worlds. Using both realistic and abstract methods of drawing and painting, I express my thoughts and life experiences in order to create my own story, to forge my own meaning.