Studio in Quarantine: Zoya Cherkassky

Art has always been an integral part of my identity. I began attending the specialized Taras Shevchenko State Art School in Kiev which provided me with key artistic tools that propelled my love of form, line, shape and color. As an adolescent girl and new immigrant to Israel in the early 90’s I encountered many hurdles, from embracing a new language to a new culture and society. This transitional period continues to inspire me.

I often reminisce over my early years in Kiev, recalling the distinct smells, sounds and views of Kiev, drawing much inspiration from those initial memories into my works. As any new immigrant would experience, it is the small things that together create the larger picture of a lost past. During this globally challenging time I have had to abandon my studio and work from home, which has become a great inspiration. I’ve begun to see mundane objects and ‘ordinary’ views in a new light.

Zoya Cherkassky, Haifa, 2013

SB: If you could choose only three things to take with you into quarantine what would they be?

ZC: Being an artist is a definitive part of who I am, so I would have to take either a sketchbook, pencil and watercolors in order to visualize ideas for various projects as well as keep up my art practice.

SB: What music playlist / album are listening to at the moment?

ZC: During the past few weeks of quarantine I’ve been homeschooling my four and a half year old daughter, and enjoying her pitter-patter around our home as well as listening to the background sounds of her favorite British television show, Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom. These background sounds have been a welcome change to my usual studio playlist.

Zoya Cherkassky, Tanuchka, 2019

SB: If you weren’t an artist what would you be?

ZC: I am an artist through and through. I can’t recall ever thinking or wanting to be anything else and will continue to follow this mantra.

SB: What is the first thing you would like to do once we go back to normality?

ZC: Once the world returns to relative normality I will delve back into my studio in south Tel Aviv. It is a second home to me and I miss my daily commute to the big, bright space where I can focus on my work and experiment with new ideas.

Zoya Cherkassky, Yefet St, 2012

SB: Who has been your biggest influence?

ZC: The Moscow based artist, Avedi Ter Oganian has been a prevalent source of inspiration and influence. We met 15 years ago in Berlin when I was in residency. I was young and searching for meaning and direction in my work. He implored me to return to painting and helped me become the artist I am today. We are still very much in touch, primarily speaking on video chat and sharing ideas. Before the current COVID-19 crisis I often flew to meet with Oganian in Prague and Moscow.

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