Tuesday, 18 February 2014

In the Kingdom of OZ

Fact one: the artist we are featuring today goes under the name of Olga Ziemska. Fact two: literally, her name Olga means “of the Earth”. Fact three: she works within the area which is now commonly known as Land Art. Fact four: she works wonders and creates magic. You may now get ready to enter the Kingdom of OZ.

Olga Ziemska, a sculptor and public artist based in Ohio, Cleveland, works in a studio by Lake Erie (a curious anagram for ‘eerie’), a fitting dwelling for someone who claims to use art as a tool to better understand the world, and whose media are mainly natural and reclaimed materials such as willow branches, salvaged birch logs, clay and plaster. Her installations herald her concerns about the bonds between humanity and Nature. In her own words, she returns to Nature through the use of natural media. Ziemska further states that her works “make the human body part of the whole and not the whole part”. Her objective is to, somehow, merge the body into Nature and to show how easy it can mesh, morph and disappear. And she adds that “the body is nothing without that which surrounds it. This is an ever-changing reflection”.

Ziemska’s impressive sculptures made with cut willow branches and wire to depict female bodies with long, undulating, flowing hair trailing behind them, such as “Stillness In Motion”, or installations as “Listen”, made of tall birch trunks with plaster hands at the top, as if reaching out to the sky in a mute dramatic call for help amidst the birch forest, are whimsical outcries for a much needed harmony between human beings and Nature.

Olga Ziemska’s most recent art works have gradually evolved to outdoor installations, showing her growing concern with blending with the environment so as to make her statement clearer. She is further interested in promoting a more direct interaction between viewers and her art pieces. By doing this, she is inviting people to share the results of her creativity and to understand and – eventually – encompass her love for Nature and all things natural.

Actually, Ziemska’s strong connection with Nature is emphasised in her website by means of a quote from Octavio Paz’s poem “Sight and Touch” ("La Vista, el Tacto"), which seems to be the touchstone for her art: “...the light sculpts the wind in the curtains, / makes each hour a living body / comes into the room and slips off, / slipperless, along the edge of a knife...”. This was to work as a revelation for Olga Ziemska’s above mentioned statement that “the body is nothing without that which surrounds it”, an aspect that is particularly important when it comes to artistic creations.
Finding inspiration in the rhythm and symmetry of the natural world and creating art works which attempt to draw order out of chaos, Ziemska seems to take viewers by the hand and lead them into a beautiful supernatural world created by her talent to sculpt movement from the soft thin ends of wood, a magic Kingdom of Oz where she dwells and rules.

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