INTERVIEW WITH OLGA EZOVA-DENISOVA
Olga Ezova-Denisova, an artist from Yekaterinburg, gave an interview to Ecopoiesis, in which she talks about her work and its connection with nature as a source of inspiration and beauty. She shares her experience of communication with the natural world and its knowledge through art and about the role of art, particularly illustration, in changing people's attitudes to the living environment.
Keywords: art, beauty, forest, nature, creativity
Brief information about the artist
Olga Yezova-Denisova is an author and artist from Yekaterinburg. Her work includes printing (linocut, stencil, monotype) and collage using paper, fabric or embroidery. Olga makes art books and illustrations, turning to the nature closest to home for inspiration and aesthetic exploration.
Alexandra Dvornikova (AD): Olya, please tell us how your career as an artist began. What major turning points can you highlight?
Olga Yezova-Denisova (OE-D): My journey began in 2010. I began doing needlework, sewing toys, and making simple craft inspired by ideas I found on the internet, and copying the works of other artists. My work felt like it was lacking ‘fire’, and I was tormented by doubts and inner searchings. Then Anatol gave me a token for an art therapy workshop, where we collaged our future using magazine clippings, painted with gouache. My neighbor saw my work and asked me if I was a designer. I said no, and she told me she thought I had talent. Her words really hit me, I believed what she said. In class, I liked collage. I tried it myself at home, but something wasn't working. Then I saw an announcement for an intensive course in illustration at the British School of Design in Moscow and I went. This was January 2012. On the course, I got acquainted with various art techniques, learned how to handle collage, what linocut is, and it was after this course that I started the work that I am doing today.
Figure: 1. The process of working on the illustration for the book "Season of Hats" | collage | 2018
AD: Can we talk a little about your childhood and in particular about the formation of your attitude to nature? How did you grow up, what did you like, what do you remember most vividly? Is your creativity related to childhood experiences?
OE-D: I first ‘met’ with nature when picking mushrooms and berries as a child. I remember my dad's tips on where to look for redhead mushrooms. I remember how my grandma and I would look for boletus in a young pine forest, and how I picked bilberries. I remember the lake where my grandfather went fishing. I remember my parents returning from picking cranberries, in boots up to their ears and with huge baskets. In general, I remember my childhood as a difficult time. I was an introverted child and this was contrary to what was expected of me. I vividly remember the moments when my mother would persuade me to take a walk with other children. I just wanted to stay at home and make things from plasticine. I loved being at home and sculpting.
I would say that the first years of my work were associated with childhood experience. The focus was directed somewhere in the past and I drew inspiration from there, reproducing images and memories. For example, there was a series of engravings “In the summer in the village” about holidays with my grandmother and grandfather. Now the focus has shifted, my work has become simpler. I explore beauty, collect beauty, and create beauty around me.
Figure: 2. “Summer in the Countryside” | linocut | 2015 year
AD: What role do you think art plays in shaping the relationship between mankind and nature?
OE-D: One aspect is educational. The more I learn about the forest, the facts, the details, the more interesting it becomes to me, the more I see, and the more I see beauty.
Figure: 3. Spread from Olya's forest diary | mixed media | 2020
AD: You spend a lot of time in the natural environment. What kind of experience is this for you? Why is it important?
OE-D: The forest is beautiful, and everything is perfection and beauty to the smallest detail. In the context of creativity, the forest is a source of material for me. I like to learn new things and find something unusual.
This season I first met plant called forest orchid (Neottia nidus-avis). It is non-photosynthetic orchid, devoid of chlorophyll and similar to a mushroom in its methods of feeding. This orchid resembles a Monotropa genus (commonly known as a ghost pipe), they are similar in appearance. I found another plant on the bog, Chamaedaphne, which is very similar to Ledum.
You would not notice the difference when it's not flowering, but here the flowers are different. I learned something new and next season I am going to look for marsh flowers and take a closer look at the blueberry bushes - maybe I could find a swamp willow (Salix myrtilloides). I am interested in collecting such details, drawing, writing them down and then transforming them into artwork.
Figure: 4. Fragment of work | linocut | 2020
AD: What challenges and difficulties do you find in your creative process?
OE-D: The biggest difficulty for me is working to order. I'm worried and tense, I feel insecure, even if the task feels like it really suits me and I know exactly how to do it beautifully. As a result, the work does not bring me satisfaction, I am not happy with the result and feel depressed. I like to do my own projects and sell them in the form of illustrations, printed graphics, books and other things. It almost always works and the result is satisfying.
There are also some technical difficulties that occur in my creative process. For example, mistakes are very important for my work; my process is based on them. I do something and then at the climax of making the work I find a mistake. Recently, I was working on an edition of the book “Herbarium and Birds”, and halfway through I realized that I had made a mistake with the method of gluing the cover on and this allowed me to come up with a new method. But some of the books had already been finished using the original method, and as a result, for several days I was crushed and feeling annoyed that not all the books were equally beautiful.
Figure: 5. Spread from the book “Herbarium and Birds” | artist's book, self-published | 2020
AD: Are there any similarities between the natural processes that you observe in the forest and the creative process that you experience?
OE-D: Yes, for example, cyclicality. In the creative process, I experience an awakening to activity, phases of active movement and the formation of the fruit of labor, then slowing down, calming down, and after a while the cycle repeats, like in nature.
AD: Please tell us about your relationship with bilberries. You have devoted a fairly large amount of your creativity to them.
OE-D: Bilberry bushes are places that attract a lot of attention in the forest. Near my house there is a forest and a bilberry meadow all in narrow little paths. On the one hand, I like the vegetation of bilberry fields and bilberry bushes. I like to see how the color of the berries and leaves changes, to collect a herbarium from openwork or unusual leaves. I like to notice new details in what seems to be so familiar. On the other hand, the bilberry branches beautiful and adorns any work. And thirdly there is an emotional element: for me, the bilberries are a symbol of safety, the forest, my mum and dad.
Figure: 6. Spread from Olya's forest diary | mixed media | 2020
AD: In your opinion, can art save the world? And if so, how exactly?
OE-D: I believe that I can change my own and someone else’s perception of the world around through my art. I have a small simple book with forest notes, as illustrations I made monotypes with plants and the herbarium. While I was working on the book, I felt warm and happy, and then I shared it on the Internet, other people felt warm and joyful in their souls. Probably I can do something like this, applying warmth and joy to the soul.
Figure: 5. Spread from the book “Herbarium and Birds” | artist's book, self-published | 2020
Note: Olga's works can be seen on her website ezovadenisova.ru
And on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/ezovadenisova/
About the interviewer: Dvornikova Alexandra
self-employed artist and art-therapist (St. Petersburg, Russian Federation)
Reference for citations:
Dvornikova A.V. Interview with Olga Yezova-Denisova. Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice, 2021, 2(1). – URL: http://en.ecopoiesis.ru
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