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Meet Olga Yukhno, Tapp’s next Artist in Residence

Olga Yukhno’s project “24 Hours (heart) Breaking News” is on display in studio 1 at Tapp’s Arts Center through May.
Olga Yukhno’s project “24 Hours (heart) Breaking News” is on display in studio 1 at Tapp’s Arts Center through May. Submitted

Artist Olga Yukhno’s journey through life is just as newsworthy as her work.

Yukhno, 33, grew up in Russia and has been passionate about art for most of her.

“Being an artist has always been a dream of mine,” she said.

Inspired by the culture of her home country, she started by working with batiques, stained glass and enameling. She found her way to an apprenticeship that allowed her to study under prominent Russian artist Nikolai Vdovkin. On top of that, she has traveled to more than 40 countries.

“What’s been the most rewarding approach for me is being as close to the locals as I can, learn what they do and why, what they love, see the real place not the one from a magazine cover,” she said.

In 2008, Yukhno moved to the United States to continue her artistic pursuits. It was here that she fell in love with ceramic sculpting. The technique allowed her to experimented and fuse together old-world artistry with her skills and abilities across a wide variety of art forms to create totally new and unique mixed media pieces.

Yukhno is Tapp’s Art Center’s next Artist in Residence. Her latest project, “24 Hours: (heart) Breaking News” fuses imagery, allegories and patterns pulled from local, national and international news sources. The exhibit is on display through May 31.

Artist Olga Yukhno fell in love with the art of ceramic sculpting when she moved to the United States in 2008. The art allowed her to experiment and fuse old-world artistry and her skills with other art forms to create unique mixed media pieces. Submitted

We talked with Yukhno recently about her career and inspiration to combine news and art.

Q. Tell us about your inspiration for the “Breaking News” project. How did the idea come about?

A. The working title of the project is “24 Hours: (heart) Breaking News,” which is a play on the endless 24-hour news cycle we all experience nowadays. The idea and my need to create this work came earlier this year.

I have always been interested in Geopolitical issues as well as social justice, and I keep up with both world and domestic events. In February I came across a story about refugee children in camps finding who used art as a way to deal with their pain. It touched me very deeply and the sketches for the first installation appeared. They just poured out. I felt a real need to express how this story made me feel.

Since then I have “collected” about 10 more stories that have also had a profound effect on me. Most of them focus on the plight of people, mostly children, who find themselves in desperate, adverse situations. Each story will be represented by an art installation. It won’t be an illustration of the piece, more a reflection of my feelings about it.

“Sleeping Mind” by Olga Yukhno. Submitted

Q. Surrounding yourself with these heavy issues must take its toll on you. How do you keep from getting depressed when you’re constantly watching/reading/listening to the news?

A. These stories do make me sad, even make me cry sometimes, but that is how I determine that they’re worth following. I try to focus not on the despair but on the different ways people cope. I focus on humanity, on being proactive, and making a difference even in the smallest way. I hope that my passion will help share the empowerment I feel, the sense that the change is within your grasp.

Q. Being from Russia, how do you think your global perspective influenced this project?

A. It has been a great influence for me. My travel experience showed me that people around the world are much more similar than different in their hearts. You can always meet wonderful, kind, generous people no matter where you go. And this helps me be open to others, to appreciate their cultures and where they are coming from but also to feel their pain.

We are all connected one way or another, even if we can’t see it just yet. Even if horrible painful things happen far away they will touch us at some point.

Q. You’ve taken part in many shows in Russia and in the U.S. Talk to us about the art scene in both countries. What are some differences?

A. There are certainly definite benefits in both countries, but I feel that the art community in the U.S. is much more accepting. In Russia, the classical training takes precedence over everything else. Consequently, it’s next to impossible to have a career as an artist without it.

On the other hand, the society in the U.S. embraces artists with different paths and backgrounds making it possible for you to develop your artistic voice no matter what your degree is. I think it’s a wonderful thing that empowers a lot of talented people to find and pursue their passion.

If you go

24 Hours: (heart) Breaking News

WHEN: Jan. 1-May 31

WHERE: Tapp’s Art Center, 1644 Main St.

INFO: www.tappsartcenter.com; 803-988-0013.