Thursday, October 04, 2007

Art Space Talk: Masha Ryskin

We are pleased to announce that Masha Ryskin is one of the four winners of the NY, NY, Competition. She and the three other artists were chosen from a group of 50 finalists. The team would like to thank the jurors-- Jessica Morgan (Tate Modern), James Rondeau (Art Institute of Chicago), and Steven Zevitas (New American Paintings). We would also like to thank everyone who participated in the competition.

Masha Ryskin is a Russian-born painter, printmaker, and installation artist. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. She has participated in a number of national and international residency programs and has worked in both United States and Indonesia, Finland, Costa Rica, Norway, and Spain. Her work has been featured in a number of publications, most recently in the New York Times.

Coffeescape II (detail), This is a detail of the site-specific wall piece Coffeescape II, 11 ft x 10 ft

Brian Sherwin: Masha, you are one of the Finalists of the NY, NY, Competition. How does it feel to know that the jurors-- Jessica Morgan (Tate Modern), James Rondeau (Art Institute of Chicago, and Steven Zevitas (New American Paintings) selected you as a winner?

Masha Ryskin: I am really happy and flattered to have been chosen as one of the winners.

BS: Masha, tell us about the work you submitted. Why did you decided on those five images?

MR: This is one of my latest works and one I am the happiest with. I used the detail shots that I thought highlighted different aspects of the installation.

Coffeescape II (detail 2), 11 ft x 10 ft, coffee, intaglio, collage

BS: Masha, the media that you use ranges from painting and printmaking to installation. Can you tell us about your educational background? Who were you mentors? Also, what artists have influenced your work?

MR: My education is in traditional painting, followed by a Bachelor's degree in printmaking, and later an MFA in painting and mixed media. I also started working with fibers in graduate school. There really are too many mentors to mention here - I have been very fortunate - but the two wonderful people that I still turn to are Joanne Stryker from Rhode Island School of Design and Randy Williams from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

BS: Masha, you were raised in the Soviet Union. You now live in the United States. Can you tell us more about your background and how it has shaped you into the artist you are today?

MR: It was quite a difference to experience the education in the United States after the Soviet schools. The variety of things I was exposed to in this country was unbelievable. But, at the same time, I always draw on the foundation received in Moscow.

Coffeescape II (detail 3), 11 ft x 10 ft

BS: Masha, you have stated that your painting are like imaginary landscapes and that some of them are influenced by Russian folklore. Can tell us more about these paintings and the stories behind them?

MR: Well, there is not an overt narrative in my paintings, but the idea of a journey is always present. I use elements of nature as metaphors, in a subtle way.The personification of nature and especially trees is central in the Russian folklore.

BS: Masha, aspects of nature are a constant theme in your work. Why do you feel so connected to nature? Can you explain that connection?

MR: I grew up on the eighth floor of a concrete building in Moscow, so my encounters with nature were always very special.
Coffeescape II (detail 4), This is a detail of Coffeescape II, 11 ft x 10 ft, coffee, intaglio, collage

BS: Masha, I've read that you have collaborated with other artists. Can you tell us about some of the collaborations you've been involved with? Why do you enjoy working in this manner?

MR: Collaboration really allows you to step out of your comfort zone, and, if you work well with the other person, enriches your work tremendously. I have collaborated with Margaret Yuko Kimura, a printmaker who now lives in Cleveland, for about ten years now. We have complete trust in each others judgments, which opens up a lot of doors during our work together. I think it is difficult to find a collaborator you can work with well, so I really treasure the opportunity to work with Margaret. I have also collaborated with musicians and dancers.

BS: Masha, tell us about your studio space? Do you follow a routine when you are working on your art? Also, can you tell us more about your artistic process?

MR: I have a studio at my house and also get a lot of work done at artist residencies. I do not follow any specific routine, and my work is very intuitive, the pieces undergo many changes before they become final. I usually work on many pieces at a time.
Coffeescape II, This is a site-specific piece done directly on the wall, 11 ft x 10 ft, coffee, intaglio, collage

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art?

MR: Not at the moment but anybody who has further questions is welcome to contact me through my Myartspace page.

Thank you reading my interview with Masha Ryskin. You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page--

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

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