I am an interdisciplinary artist who works in collaborative puppetry, woodworking, storytelling and immersive performance.
Art has been a vehicle for me to create inclusivity in my community.
I was born in Kiev (in the former USSR) and came to the United States as a child. I did not speak the language or understand the culture. I felt like an outsider in America. As a result, I learned English by watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoons and found comfort with other immigrants.
After graduating from Rutgers Business School, I chose to live in Yosemite National Park to befriend the squirrels and the granite womb of mountains. I worked as a land steward, living 14 miles away from civilization in the wilderness of the Sierras. My mail, paychecks and supplies were carried up the mountain and delivered to me by mule.
I traveled throughout the world, seeking to learn about farming, sustainable building practices, and the diversity of art and history. In Spain, I learned about the history of puppetry at a festival, and hiked along the Camino de Santiago, sharing meals with strangers participating in the spiritual journey. In Nepal, I hiked through the Himalayas and stayed in huts with the local families filling my belly on yak butter. In Thailand, I slept in thatched-roof homes in the mountains and was taught to make my own cutlery out of bamboo.
After these adventures, I gathered with a group of friends to build an eco-friendly house and farm on 16 acres of land in Freeville, NY called the Dacha Project. My family grew: I had a daughter, and I later gave birth to a second child acting as a surrogate for my sister. The Dacha Project has now become a collective homestead and workspace for local artists, puppeteers, musicians, clowns, and children.
My childhood as an immigrant and my travels an an adult have taught me to express myself through art and lend myself to building an extensive, dynamic community.