Thursday, April 29, 2021

See What's New at the Mattatuck Museum!

 Maryna Bilak's Caring Hands featured in a new segment by Eyewitness News 3, CT from Mattatuck Museum.

See What's New at the Mattatuck Museum!

Director Bob Burns speaking to Kara, Better Connecticut TV show. 

Caring Hands, 2014-2019, Caregivers' hand casting

Mattatuck Museum Collection

artist maryna bilak

художниця марина білак


Monday, March 1, 2021

Maryna Bilak's Caring Hands at Mattatuck Museum

 Maryna Bilak's Caring Hands, 2015-2019 sculpture installation currently on display at Mattatuck Museum since their grand reopening on February 28th, 2021 in Waterbury, CT.

Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury celebrates reopening by NEWS8


  Caring Hands, plaster on wood, paint, purchase by Mattatuck Museum, Acquisitions Fund, 2019.7.1a-r

During the last years of her life, the artist's mother-in-law, Dorothy lived with the artist's young family. Dorothy suffered from Alzheimer's and required continuous attention. Multiple caregivers assisted the family; their participation led to this installation sculpture. Here, plaster casts of each helper represent the unseen process of tending to Dorothy and the endless cycle of care. 

Caring Hands is part of the permanent collection of Mattatuck Museum and was selected for the reopening of the museum, February 28th, 2021. 

Artist Maryna Bilak was present at the opening with her husband Maurice Haughton and her daughter Irina.


Maryna Bilak 

Марина Білак

Sunday, July 12, 2020

11 Questions for Artist Maryna Bilak by Robert Tomlinson

Photo by Susan Sabino

At what moment in your life did you realize that you were an artist? And how did that shape the important decisions you needed to make from that point forward?
The moment I realized I was an artist came long after I started to paint or draw, or make things. Only when I began questioning myself why I make what I make did I start to consider my- self an artist. From that time forward
I wanted everything to be meaningful and speak about particulars. It became harder to make things. There was more time of inaction in the studio. And there were more spontaneity and deeper questions.

Do you believe that art can be taught?
Art is in a race with its interpretation. There is no grammar in making art, but rather a plurality of rhetoric. Craft is part of art making and craft can be taught and should be taught. It is good to know and have “tools” in case you want to use them to deliver your artistic message. What is the difference between a musician and a painter? Why should a musician learn how to play a musi- cal instrument and how to read notes and spend all those hours of practice? I don’t want to take myself too seriously in the studio, but there is a desire to shoulder responsibilities for what I’m mak- ing and how I’m making it.

Can you please describe your creative process and how it has changed over the last 10 years?I started to see in layers. Whether it is painting, or drawing, or sculpture, I learned how to build in layers and how to reconstruct in layers. Every layer is very abstract, but at the same time very specific and very important and cannot be skipped. And with this discipline came an amazing freedom in my touch. I’ve developed more respect for the materials and honor the knowledge that comes with them. And it is very important for me now that the subject matter speaks to the material I choose, and vice versa.
In terms of composition I’ve become more democratic— everything counts, everything is important, each corner of the picture plane is taken into consideration.

How do you experience failure in your work and what are your coping processes?For me failure is another word for an experience. I have tried so many things. I keep trying. It is a good thing to fall, hit bottom and have the leverage to push yourself up with stronger energy. Failure brings a sense of richness. Failure brings possibilities.

As you look back on your career, if you could do it differently, what would you change?Experiment more, and work as if I will die in a couple of years.

What are you currently working on?
I am sticking with my frescoes and plaster high reliefs. But there is a desire to get rid of intention of making a “work of art.” I want to be closer to cave artists and folk artists, where people actually made things for some practical/spiritual use.
Partly I know what I want, and partly I just watch to see what will emerge in my hands and I will collaborate with it. And, simultaneously, these days being a young mother I am absorbing the experience of motherhood, feeding my imagination, getting pregnant with new ideas.

What other art forms have inspired you in your work?
A weird combination of dance, cooking and embroidery always inspired me and felt very natural. I do all of those things and see so much in common. Among many characteristics there is a gesture, there is a color and there is a discipline.

Would you give us an example or two of other artist’s works that you admire and tell us why?There are too many of them and I don’t feel like selecting just a few would be fair to the way I feel. And besides, I don’t even know names of those who made cave paintings, or most of the African and Oceanic sculptures. Those are my true heroes. Even though I experience their work visually and look at it as pure art, I know that behind each work there was a practical purpose. And perhaps that is the key to the reason I’m so drawn to them.

What is the hardest thing about being an artist?To stay honest to yourself without fear of being judged and misunderstood. Being authentic and trying to catch that change in my own growth and development is not easy. And even on an everyday basis it is hard to go to the studio and start doing something without any instructions: what, how and why are constant questions.

What is the best thing about being an artist?The best thing about being an artist is
the kind of freedom that gives you the permission to be willing to do something that may not work out. Making what
you feel passionate about and at the same time walking on edge and not staying in a safe place gives such tremendous energy. I take it as a luxury calling myself an artist.

If you were reading a review of your work, what would you want it to say?I do care about how people look at my work and what they see. I love my work to carry the dichotomy of being open and yet being mysterious. I love when viewers complete their own stories while looking at my work. I want people to relate and be engaged and to be challenged. The more comments on one piece, the better I feel about my work.

#марина білак

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Today's Women with Elaine Houston, NewsChannel 13, WNYT

Maryna Bilak with Elaine Houston, Today's Women, News Channel 13, WNYT

CARE project
Mother-in-law's Alzheimer's diagnosis sparks art project
artist maryna bilak
художниця марина білак

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

CARING HANDS at Mattatuck Museum

CARING HANDS at Mattatuck Museum, September 22nd, 2019 - January 5th, 2020 

Address: 63 Prospect St, Waterbury, CT 06702

Opening reception Sunday September 22nd, 1pm-3pm
Artist talk at 2pm

Maryna Bilak's art address the process of caring for someone with Alzheimer's Disease - in this case, the artist's mother-in-law, Dorothy. Bilak explores the different roles that the act of caregiving requires from each person involved. Caring Hands is a series of 18 plaster casts the artist created from hands of those who work with Dorothy. This exhibition will take place on the second floor at Rose Hill, Mattatuck Museum.

marynabilak artist
художниця марина білак 

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

 Hudson-based Ukrainian artist Maryna Bilak exhibition at Hudson Hall
January 25, 2019 10:57 am

HUDSON — Hudson Hall presents Maryna Bilak: CARE, an exhibition documenting the unseen process of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s—in this case, the artist’s mother-in-law, Dorothy. Through charcoal drawings, fresco, sculpture, and painting, Bilak’s installation delves into the different roles that the act of caretaking requires from each person involved, including the patient herself.

The exhibition opens with a reception with the artist on February 2nd, 2019 from 5 to 7 p.m, featuring a performance of an original song composed for the exhibition by Memphis-based pianist Michael S. Jaynes. The piece is inspired by Jaynes’ own experience caring for his mother,also an Alzheimer’s sufferer. Molly McCann, MHA, Associate Director of Programs and Services: Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives, at the Alzheimer’s Association of Northeastern New York will also be speaking. Maryna Bilak: CARE is curated by Emily O’Leary and is on view until March 17.

Dorothy—mother, patient, older woman, mother-in-law—is the conceptual and often physical nexus for each work in CARE. In a series of traditional charcoal portraits, Dorothy is depicted chronologically, starting with softly rendered images of girlhood that evolve gradually into more harshly rendered scenes of the subject in the last vestiges of the disease. The small-scale frescos provide limited glimpses into Dorothy’s features—an eye, a mouth—and reflects on the disintegrated and fractured mental state that accompanies Alzheimer’s. The installation focuses on the tangible and intensely personal, incorporating clothing, nail clippings, hair, and plaster casts of hands and feet.

A series of cast-off hangers, clothing, including a headboard that once belonged to Dorothy turned on its side, becomes a delicate, conceptual artwork. By engaging directly with these objects, they adopt newfound significance and become an artistic language in which Bilak speaks to the experience of what it is to be a caregiver.

“This body of artwork was created as a response to the long-term care provided by my husband, Maurice and I to his mother, an Alzheimer’s sufferer,” she says. “This project is about life with a mentally and physically disabled person, and all the dedication, sacrifice and responsibility that comes with it. It is about mother, son, and artist. It is about a family,” she says.

Born in the Carpathian Mountains in West Ukraine, Maryna Bilak received her first MFA from Subcarpathian National University (Ukraine). After, she studied at Balassi Bálint Hungarian Cultural Institute in Budapest (Hungary), Charles University in Prague (Czech Republic), and in 2014 received her second MFA from New York Studio School. Since 2001 Maryna has exhibited her work in Ukraine, Hungary, Slovakia, Russia, and USA. Her recent solo show Buon Fresco/Fresh was featured at John Davis Gallery. Maryna lives in Hudson, NY, with her husband Maurice Haughton, daughter Irina and her mother-in-law Dorothy.