I grew up in Saint Petersburg, Russia; or Leningrad, Soviet Union, as it was called then. When I started college in 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. These were the exciting times of perestroika and glastnost. I did my first oil painting during that time, inspired by the combination of Saint Petersburg's classical beauty and the contemporary art emerging into public view.
The Soviet Union collapsed a year later. We gained the freedom of movement. While still students, my husband and I went to England, where he found a job. We stayed in London for three years and then relocated to the US – Birmingham, Alabama.
We stayed in Birmingham for six years. I went to the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) to finish my studies, including extensive art studio courses and the interdisciplinary curriculum of the UAB Honors Program. This close-knit academic community helped me understand and integrate into the new country.
In 2002, we moved to the Washington, DC, area, where I continued to paint and eventually obtained a Master's degree from Georgetown University.
The panel features all the places of personal significance in my coming to the DC area.
- Dominating the piece is a "well" courtyard that I had grown up in, a typical space in St. Petersburg's historic city center. The middle square is divided into two parts: the sky, which one would see when looking up surrounded by the building walls of the "well," and the asphalt, on which one would play as a child.
- On each side of the panel, I drew the outlines of buildings: the Berlin Wall in its "fall" days; the Houses of Parliament in London; the stained glass window of a former church which houses the UAB Honors Program (coincidentally, Baryshnikov had practiced in that building), and the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art (which for me represents Washington, DC, more than the other DC buildings.)