"Belonging" Series

  • In this body of work, I am questioning the definition of belonging in the context of immigration and constant traveling.

    Moving to Miami from Moscow at the age of 17 has strongly affected my sense of identity, as I was forced to start from a new beginning after leaving a fully developed life in hometown. I noticed that answering a simple question, "Where are you from?", became more complicated after a year of life in a new home. Standing on a threshold of the next big move made me question if we need to limit our identity to one place. To explore this topic I created a series of multi-layered pieces that reflect different "branches" of my belonging, covering old, new, and alternative paths I took through my life.

    The final composition is brought together with a light transparent aluminum-mesh self-portrait that is hung in front of the pieces to show how a person does not have to be attached to one particular background.
    Watercolor, colored pencil, transparent paper, thread, fake grass, rocks, ink, on paper
    One of the oldest memories I have about skating with my friend in Moscow. Elements made with immigration passport stamps swirl around the memory, dragging old past away.
    Watercolor, colored pencil, marker, transparent paper, ink, thread on paper
    The buildings I had to leave after living next to them for over 10 years.
    Watercolor, colored pencil, transparent paper, on paper
    This one reflects an alternative branch: before settling on Miami my family thought about moving to Thailand, where I have spent a big portion of my life. Even though it never happened, Thailand still feels like home to me. 
    Watercolor, colored pencil, bark wood, silver leaf, cardboard, ink, on paper
    Contradictions of emotions caused by adaptation to the new home in Miami.
    Watercolor, colored pencil, fabrics, carpet, thread, beads, scrapbook paper, black and white ink, on paper
    Constant traveling and moving force us to sleep in different beds without being able to attach ourselves to one bedroom. Eventual medley of environments is so contrast and inharmonious the person almost gets lost in it. 
    Aluminum mesh
    The main idea I wanted to convey through the series is suggesting that in modern setting we don't really need to limit our identity to one particular place. I layered aluminum mesh to make a light and semi-transparent self-portrait that would be hung in front of other pieces to show how a person doesn't have to be attached to one background to move on.
    Watercolor, colored pencil, ink, on paper

    Through this piece, I wanted to convey the emotions of both unity and separation I experienced while visiting my old classmates in Moscow last summer. After their graduation, we rented a cottage in a countryside to spend the last day of lightheartedness together. At night we climbed on a roof to play guitar, meet the sunrise and celebrate the letting go of your past, knowing that after the night everyone would start their independent life path yet would still hold each other' back no matter where they go.
    Watercolor, colored pencil, ink, on paper

    In previous pieces, I was illustrating my old, alternative and current homes, and wanted to finish it with the suggestion about the future home. Eventually, I am planning to move to New York and go back to city life I am used to, although the warm years in Miami have permanently made it one of the places that feel like home and shape my perception of the US in general.