Currently in a show in Portland. Pick up from the venue and free shipping available when the show ends on June 4th 2023.
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I didn’t have a normal American childhood. I spent my childhood on a farm in a rural part of the Ukrainian Soviet Union. Instead of watching TV, I would pass the time watching light shine through the leaves. Instead of talking on the phone, I would observe the way cherries glistened in the afternoon sun. With so few distractions, I studied scenes in my childhood village with ferocity. Although I don’t have any photos from my childhood, the images that seared into my memories show up in this work. This painting is a tribute to my ancestral village, where my forebears lived for generations. It was a place where every window was adorned with an ornate design and cats roamed freely. I wanted to pay tribute to the beauty and character of this special place through my art
Anya Keyes is a Ukrainian-born artist who grew up in Soviet-era Ukraine before moving to the United States at the age of sixteen. She had always dreamed of becoming a painter, but in order to succeed in her new country, she initially pursued a career in pharmacy. After a decade-long break from art, moving to Portland in 2017 sparked a renewed passion for painting, and she began participating in collaborations with other local artists and displaying her work in solo and group shows.
Anya’s paintings draw on her experience as a first-generation immigrant, a foreign-born mother, friend, and citizen. A woman seemingly integrated into modern American life, yet who occasionally slips into her rural Slavic upbringing. Anya's portraits of women in headscarves explore themes of cultural identity and belonging.
In addition to her artistic pursuits, Anya is also deeply involved in her community. She has painted several murals in her neighborhood and regularly donates proceeds from her work to organizations that support black health and Ukrainian causes. She is passionate about using her art to give voice to Ukrainian immigrants and to connect with and give back to her community.
As an immigrant, I am deeply connected to my Ukrainian heritage and the memories of my childhood in Soviet-era Ukraine. In my work, I blend elements of Ukrainian folklore and the objects that were a part of my daily life growing up, with modern American images creating a unique and personal fusion of cultures.
My portraits, which I paint in oil, often feature somber-looking women against a bright and colorful background, which represents my own struggle to fully embrace the joy of living in the US. I attribute this to the generational trauma of living under Soviet rule and the elusive sense of belonging that comes with being an immigrant.
Through my art, I aim to solidify my own sense of identity and to offer a fresh perspective on immigration that promotes shared understanding and breaks down barriers between "us" and "them." I also hope to increase visibility of Ukrainian culture in the US and to help immigrants feel seen, valued, and connected. By representing Ukrainians in art, I aim to challenge stereotypes and promote diversity and inclusivity in the art world.
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