Yelena Zhavoronkova Exhibition – Memories in Red
About Yelena Zhavoronkova
Yelena Zhavoronkova was born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) and had been living in the United States since 1990. She graduated from the Saint Petersburg Art and Industry Academy with the degree in Industrial Design and working as a graphic designer.
For the last few years she is also working in photography, analyzing and painting the world around her with the help of light and optics.
The series “Memories in Red” could be described as an excursus to the personal history of the child growing up in the military family in the former Soviet Union in the 1960-s. She considers this an artistic contribution to her the family’s history and to the history of the country during co-called “Thaw” period.
Among the other projects she is working on the “Art History” portrait series, inspired by the Old Maters’ portraiture and the “Dead End”, a series of black and white photographs with the city of San Francisco as a main subject. The visit to Japan inspired her to put together a small collection “Spring in Japan”.
MEMORIES in RED
RED was not my favorite color for the most of my life. Unconsciously I avoided it in my clothes and in my art. For me, growing up in Russia, RED had the direct association with the state. RED was a weapon. It was the communist propaganda in action: the color of the state flags on the mandatory May-Day parades we had to attend since the early childhood, the color of the banners crisscrossing the streets and snaking around the street lamp poles on the state holidays. Only RED. It was everywhere. You couldn’t escape it. I learned to hate it.
For some reason my very first “red pioneer tie” survived. At school I was told that it’s my very own‚ “piece of the red flag” and I have to cherish it. I remember ironing it every day before school and cutting off the loose threads off the edges. In time this red silk triangular lost all its political meaning. Wearing it every day to school was the part of my life then, as well as my dad’s razor and his old mesh shopping bag, which he had in his coat pocket every time he stepped out of the house, just “in-case”. Or as my grandma’s old tiny scissors or mom’s gold watch, her only treasure, which she wore only on holidays. To me, born only a decade after the Second World War had ended, even my dad’s war medals were not the history yet, but a part of life.
Working on the “MEMORIES IN RED” series I found myself at peace with RED. Finally.
– Yelena Zhavoronkova