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.
Being, fresco, 15 x 12”, 2018
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.