Rania Schoretsaniti is a Greek artist who draws on a rich cultural and artisanal heritage of craftsmanship, spirituality and family values. From a young age, she was taught the importance of self-sustainability, and her grandmother offered her valuable instruction on how to make things by hand. The core lesson being that in times of hardship you can draw on your strength and ‘use your hands and your head’ to make something of value and integrity in your life.
As a child, Rania grew up playing in the workshop of her family’s furniture-making business, where she observed the mechanics of sofas being built from raw cuts of wood knocked together into frames before being clad by beautiful upholstered fabrics.
Nostalgia for the purity of this time is deeply imbued in processes behind her works, which range from energetic, abstract oil on canvases, such as “Big Smile” or “Pink Sky”, to her finely rendered lines in ink and oil on canvas (like “Jacob’s Ladder” and “Synanteseis”).
But it is in her reliefs that the physicality of “using her hands” really comes into fruition. Every part of the soaring forms behind her works such as “Silk 1”, “Sea” or her “Trikke” series are constructed by hand, starting with the wooden frames, which are covered in bright fabrics, many of which she hand-dyed using traditional techniques.
Rania describes her works as her “words” which she uses to interpret and express a conscious and subconscious experience of the world, and which form a bridge to the divide between the known and the unknown (Heaven and Earth). Her symbolic use of lines and ladders are conversations that express the choice we have as humans to take steps “and build” so that we evolve from a position of suffering to one of empowerment or enlightenment.
Oksana Bergen is a visual artist living and working in Germany. She was born and raised in the town of Kedrovy Shor, in Russia. At the age of 15, Oksana and her family moved to Paderborn, Germany, where she now lives with her husband and their two sons.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Oksana where I was captivated by watching live demonstrations of her agile and graceful hands snipping paper, while the fine paper “hair” floated gently onto the table. Oksana skillfully cuts and shapes design elements unifying them to achieve works of art.
Ecologically minded, Oksana uses colored advertisement paper, choosing it for its malleability and stability for building her relief work. She collects unsolicited promotional print material most people would toss in the recycling bin. Instead of discarding it, she expertly manipulates this glossy, colored print material rendering it depth and elevating it to an aesthetic relief artwork. Oksana is like an alchemist of paper, transforming junk mail and imparting it with an aesthetic form, fundamentally turning “trash to treasure.”