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RE:CREATE. Christina Sajs Transformative Paintings

January 13 – June 22, 2019


New York—On January 13, 2019, The Ukrainian Museum will open an installation of interactive works by contemporary artist Christina Saj. The project was conceived when Saj was invited to create a participatory art experience for visitors to the galleries.

As museum visitors increasingly seek to engage in more immersive experiences, in this groundbreaking exhibition Saj changes the dialogue between artist and viewer. She encourages the audience to collaborate and co-create a piece of art, which then remains as part of the exhibition. This is underscored in her invitation to have participants document their work using the Instagram hashtag #RecreateAtUM, thus rendering their "re-creations" part of a continuous feed of images for the duration of the installation.

Making art is a visceral activity. Saj knows that it is only natural to have observers of art participate in the creative process. The goal with this installation was to engage the casual museum visitor as a "co-artist" without getting bogged down by messy materials and long involved processes. Their action and reaction are immediate, while the resulting works become part of a dialogue between collaborators.

Using her signature bright and colorfully patterned palette, Saj has created a dozen panels for visitors to work on, accompanied by several dozen smaller components for the "recreation." Each piece is titled and contains images that act as an armature, offering a construct in which to build a personalized new work. The viewer is asked to respond with selections from a variety of shapes—abstract, figurative, patterned, big and small—that are available throughout the gallery. Visitors are encouraged to add, subtract and rearrange pieces as they see fit. Following the #RecreateAtUM hashtag allows the Instagram user to watch an ever-transforming portfolio of art through its lifetime in the gallery. This installation will function on two levels: a tactile and transformative experience for gallery visitors, and a virtual one for online followers. Anyone can observe the progression online—a digital interface paralleling the gallery activity that will be similarly engaging as the metamorphic images continue to surprise and delight the viewer.

“I want visitors to experience working with color, shape and ideas in order to see how abstraction and pattern happen and relate, and how combinations of different images allow for reinvention and even distortion of meaning. I am, thus, inviting the otherwise casual observer to become co-creator and to engage in thinking like an artist. As artists we are always being asked to explain our process, and here I have consciously allowed the audience in with the intent to encourage individual commitment to the creative process." – Christina Saj

Saj hopes the experience will offer those who have never created a painting a way to think about color, composition and meaning in ways that artists are trained to do, in hopes that participants develop a deeper understanding and have more rewarding encounters with artworks everywhere.


About the Museum

The Ukrainian Museum acquires, preserves, and exhibits articles of artistic or historic significance to the rich cultural heritage of Ukrainian Americans; its collections include thousands of items of folk art, fine art, and archival material. At its founding in 1976 by the Ukrainian National Womens League of America, the Museum was hailed as one of the finest achievements of Americans of Ukrainian descent. Since then, and particularly since its move in 2005 to a new, state-of-the-art building in Manhattans vibrant East Village, it has become known as one of the most interesting and dynamic smaller museums in New York City. Each year, the Museum organizes several exhibitions, publishes bilingual (English/Ukrainian) catalogues, and presents a wide range of public and educational programs, including concerts, films, lectures, courses, workshops, and special events.

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