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Biography
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American-Ukrainian artist Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak was born in 1952 in Cleveland, OH, USA. She’s a well-known multidisciplinary artist working in mixed media.

The art of Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak is characterized by titles that offer insights into her work. She explores individual identity and cultural connections, assembling fragments of text and figuration to perpetuate a discourse about one’s place in the world.

Born1952CityCleveland, OH, USACatalogUART 2024Date of EntryMarch 2024

Exhibitions

2024 — Pandemic Lamentations, Houston, TX
2022-3 — Traveling exhibit for Ukraine – Lviv, Kyiv, Kharkiv, Chernivtsi, Lutsk – canceled due to the war.

2021 — The Ties That Bind; O’Kane Gallery, University of Houston-Downtown, TX
2020 — Holodomor: A Remembrance; a virtual exhibition presentation, The Ukrainian Museum, NYC
2019 — You Don’t Say! – Redbud Gallery, Houston, TX
2016  —  Discourse; The Galveston Arts Center, Galveston, TX
2015-6  —  Dialogues; Lone Star College, traveling exhibition, TX (catalog) 
2015  —  Nevermore; Fletcher-Sinclair Historic Mansion – UIA, New York, NY
2015  —  Nature Studies; Hunter Gather Project Gallery, Houston, TX
2014  —  If We Had Known; Beeville Art Museum,  Beeville, TX (honorarium)
2013  —  Evocations; The Ukrainian Museum, New York, NY (catalog)
2011  —  Thresholds; The Pearl Fincher Museum of Fine Arts,  Spring, TX
2010  —  Hide and Seek; College of the Mainland Fine Arts Gallery,  Texas City, TX
2010  —  Hide and Seek; Nau-Haus Art Space,  Houston, TX
2008  —  The Innocents; Adair Margo Gallery,  El Paso, TX
2006  —  Chornobyl; The University of Houston Art Gallery,  Houston, TX
1995  —  Elegies; The Nave Museum of Art,  Victoria, TX (catalog)
1995  —  Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak; The Dallas Visual Art Center,  Dallas, TX
1993  —  Cultural Renaissance:  Personal Frame of Reference;  The Galveston Arts Center,  Galveston, TX
1991  —  Presences: A Selection 1979-1990; Stephen F. Austin State University Art Gallery,  Nacogdoches, TX
1988  —  Oil Paintings, Pastel Drawings; Graham Gallery, Houston, TX

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    Creative process 

    Her creative process begins with collecting newspaper and magazine articles, cherished mementos, and cultural artifacts addressing specific themes she wishes to delve into. Bodnar-Balahutrak’s focus revolves around significant historical and contemporary events. By selecting items from diverse documentary sources, she orchestrates them into a self-perpetuating dialogue, collaging them onto various surfaces such as canvas, wood, or paper. The imagery evolves through adding and subtracting elements of found text, employing techniques like painting, drawing, veiling, and scraping with oil, charcoal, chalks, and wax.

    In 1991, an IREX grant facilitated Bodnar-Balahutrak’s journey to her ancestral homeland of Ukraine for the first time. This experience exposed her to a long-suffering yet hopeful people and a beautiful land ravaged by the Soviet system, profoundly influencing her creative work and worldview.

    «It was a turning point in my creative work and world view.  A concern with the human condition – always at the heart of my art – took new form and urgency. 

    Subsequent trips to Ukraine included a 1996 visit to the Chornobyl Zone, which left a lasting impression of nature’s power of reclamation and healing.  Despite everything, even in the face of deception, destruction and loss, I saw nature regenerating life and creating anew.  The curtains of trees, tangled branches, vines, nests, and animals enacting fable-like parables have become recurring motifs in my work.»

    Lydia Bodnar-Balahutrak

    Two-cultural mindset 

    Having grown up in two cultures—a hereditary culture inherited from her displaced post-World War II immigrant family and the culture of the country of her birth and upbringing—Bodnar-Balahutrak endeavors to share her unique cultural blend, aiming to touch the common core of humanity. Whether solemn or comical, metaphoric or naturalistic, her art seeks to evoke longing, express wonder, and invite discourse.

    The path of artistic search 

    Concurrently, she examines the nature of print media, contemplating how information is disseminated, revealed, and concealed, exploring the creation, implication, hiding, and disguising of narratives. Her ongoing process of layering and abrading words, images, and ephemera reflects her profound interest in how history is understood, experienced, submerged, resurfaced, and unraveled over time.








    Pandemic Lamentations 

    3-part Pandemic Lamentations began during lockdown as a form of commemoration and catharsis. It was a narrative shared by all of us in the grips of a worldwide plague.

    I turned to drawing on large expanses of paper, up to 270 inches long, unrolled and pinned to the studio wall. The scroll-like paper became the ground for arranging and collaging print news accounts clipped from the dailies of The New York Times and The Houston Chronicle. Selected articles, headlines, and photos documented the pandemic in chronological order. Included were the suffering and death, the heroic and destructive behaviors, the failed leaders and the emergent new leaders, the lies, and the facts.

    The entire collaged narrative can be easily read, visible through the veiled drawing in charcoal and pastel of intertwining branches, prickly thorns, choking gnarly vines, and smoldering fires and smoke – visual metaphors expressing loss, sorrow, mercy, and hope.

    Part 1 begins with the impeachment of our 45th President and overlaps with the global declaration of a coronavirus pandemic. Part 2 centers on May 2020, marking the then incalculable human toll of 100,000 COVID deaths in the U.S.  In Part 3, the writhing dark gates in the center of the work are folded into a corner. To the left is an account of the staggering loss of lives, the ensuing social, political, and economic upheavals, and the constant stream of denials and misinformation. On the opposite side of the gates lies some hope for a return to “normalcy”, with the availability of vaccines and a new administration. Here the vines connect and leaf out, but the fire is not extinguished and continues to burn.












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