?I am a Natural Born Misfit Artist?

Katya Grokhovsky was born in Ukraine, raised in Australia and is based in New York. She is an artist, independent curator, organizer, educator and a founding director of Feminist Urgent. Grokhovsky holds an MFA in Studio from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a BFA from Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne University, Australia and a BA (Honors) in Fashion from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia. Her work was supported by numerous international institutions and organizations. She is an Asylum Arts alumni, and recently joined our all-star retreat, held in Garrison, NY. To read more about her and her work, click here.

My art is my life, I sing a love song to it every single day in gratitude. I don’t know how else to describe it. I am a natural born misfit artist, one of those who is not apt for anything else on this planet. I tried to do other things and every single false start took me for a swift spin on my own B-grade horror movie carousel. Bringing me to a stand-still in the identical location, conjuring up visions, daydreaming ideas with my half closed eyes and a tip of a tongue hanging out of my mouth, drenched in lust for creativity. This immense drive and desire to create and negate the status quo has been with me my entire life. I am a romantic vicious wild dog with its’ bone about it, because it saves my life, my health, and my sanity. “Art is a guarantee of sanity,” said Louise Bourgeois. This statement hangs framed on my bedroom wall, and I look at it as I wake up everyday, as a reminder to persevere, regardless of failure, struggle or exclusion.

As a visual artist, I work in numerous mediums, jumping ships all the time, simply because I enjoy the liberty and the challenge of learning something new constantly and because ideas point me there.  The territory of a fresh material or a technique is akin to learning another language, and to immigration itself. Both familiar grounds to me. My life is my subject, as a woman, as a displaced person, as someone who is never from where she exists.

Geographically and psychologically, I don’t belong anywhere, so I create my own worlds. I’m an avid observer of the society. As a woman, I was born angry about my preconceived and oppressed positioning in the world, just because of my gender, so my life’s project is to decode, decondition and deconstruct the patriarchal order. I stand firm on living my life as I see fit, as an ultimate refusal of any prefabricated formulas, traps and structures based on my sex.

I often begin my research from within my own body, as a target of the gaze, objectified, policed and under attack on the outside, yet possessing a highly complex interior life. The vast dissonance between the exterior image and the fragile internal world fascinates me to no end. Walking, breathing, living while female is a lifelong opera of objectification, negotiation, suppression and daily survival strategies of at least 50% of the population, yet the experience is still hardly studied in culture. I’m interested in the invisible, the unthinkable, the silenced, the discarded, useless, pathetic absurd moments and information. The misrepresented longing and pleasure of a woman, the space, where assumptions, stereotypes and standards fall away. Working in somewhat nomadic ways, I gather numerous found objects and materials to play with, collaging, assembling, sculpting, sewing, painting, capturing, staging and performing the liminal and the unseen. I time travel into my childhood in Soviet Ukraine, juxtaposing fragments of memory of a growing girl there with learned knowledge and reality of a grown woman in the West, dreaming up feminist utopias.

My current project consolidates my practice, resurrecting identity through the mundane. I am reviewing my life’s history and learned behaviors via re-gathering of most of my accumulated personal possessions in USA and repositioning them as art. As a way to examine my life in another country, I am re-re-learning, reclaiming and purging. “The undoing” project is a slow, operatic adventure, which is taking me to new spaces of inquiry into memory, place and future possibilities. It is an attempt to begin again, to learn anew, to undo the done, to hope yet again. Working in a circular manner, I begin with writing, drawing, collaging and painting, moving towards sculptural objects and installations, to performance and video. The process will hopefully spark several series of works, decolonizing the body and mind, transcending the systematic pressure to fit into a mold. I am hoping to re-order and re-make a new world once more.


May 2016


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