Time and Space With Tatiana Flis

We are happy to introduce and welcome Tatiana to Fountain St Fine Art Gallery as a new core member.  

Can you tell me a little about your background?

I was born in New York’s Hudson Valley and grew up on a Ukrainian resort, Soyuzivka. My father was the general manager, and my sister and I would spend our days exploring the woods and letting our imaginations run wild. The resort placed our Ukrainian heritage all around us; the language, the food, and the rich artistic culture and crafts. Unaware of it at the time, my heritage and the Hudson Valley landscape would eventually begin to weave themselves in and out of my work, both consciously and subconsciously. 

Why sculpture?

While attending graduate school for sculpture at Cranbrook Academy of Art, I realized how sculpture could mean so many different things. It isn’t a closed subject, and you aren’t restricted in your artistic expression. I watched colleagues of other mediums push their explorations, and it is there that paintings, photography, and design became sculptures... this experience taught me that sculpture is the most inclusive form of artistic expression. I don’t know if I was late to this realization, or if everyone was discovering this together, but I no longer felt trapped within a specific medium. 

What past encounters you have had/or are currently having that influence your work?

I have traveled through 39 states, including four in which I have held resident status. All of my travels have revealed to me the importance of landscape in my work. I have always been fascinated with how people live in relation to the natural landscape that surrounds them. When you get into a car and drive, the vastly changing landscape not only allows you the ability to observe others, but gives you the time for self-reflection. Travel allows me time to just stop and be. 

What is your current focus in the studio?

Over the last couple of years, my work has become more intimate in scale, while really pulling from my travels. My focus has also shifted greatly from creating three-dimensional objects to drawings, collage and watercolor. I approach all of my two-dimensional work the same way I would approach a three dimensional form, focusing on ideas of time and space. One thing I love about my drawings is that there is a sculpture waiting to break out of each of them. I have a sketchbook with notes of how each of these drawings will one day become a sculpture. It is my goal that within the next year my studio will begin to transform from a drawing/collage studio to a casting/sculpting studio. I haven’t been this excited about creating objects since I first walked into the studios at Cranbrook. 

What is your favorite material to work with?

Graphite, lead hardness HB to be specific. I would also say flocking (the kind you buy from model train stores). I collect the stuff.

Can you tell me a little about your process-how do you approach making?

It is all about space. How does the viewer perceive space, what type of space am I creating, and how does the physical environment change once I finish a piece. These are always in the back of my mind... whether I sit down to put marks on a piece of paper or develop a miniature landscape within an egg, I always think, how can I transport myself and the viewer into these private worlds?