I am greeted at the door by the artist Daria Dorosh. Her dark eyes are framed by a halo of white hair, one side bluntly cut short and the other long and grazing her shoulder — physical evidence of her belief in the “unity of two opposites,” which create harmony. Her passion is contagious: investigating and questioning the role of women in art; the importance of location and object-making, be it a wall, a public space or the body; and the role that technology plays in making art. “We are the only generation that has gone from analog to digital . . .” she says.
Before 1989, Dorosh was a minimal and pattern painter. “Until I hit Photoshop [a computer program],” she says, “a tool that is the next level of collage with many more options. . . it is actually a ‘shredder’ stitching together pixels.” Following Dorosh around her home as she points out earlier works, listening to her talk, mesmerized by the words bouncing around the room, a cascading confetti of language intermixing with the hypnotic light of the warm afternoon sun pouring through the windows, I am witnessing a life that has one foot in its intractable realities, and the other in the magic of invention and play.
Born in an old medieval town in Ukraine, Dorosh came to the United States when she was seven years old at a time when Stalinist Russia eradicated people that were educated and had money, including many of Dorosh’s relatives. Being an immigrant in New York City and having to learn a new language was difficult. But her mother’s resilience and ambition, finding employment as a chamber maid at the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel and eventually working for its vice president helped support the family. She then later became a buyer for Bergdorf Goodman’s fashion department. Perhaps that role was a catalyst for Dorosh who had been a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology and then Cooper Union studying fashion illustration and fine art. “The immigrant situation never goes away,” she says, “when I was younger I thought it was my parent’s past, but that’s not true.”
Dorosh’s “inner child” is a survivor, which appears as a textile sculpture, Doily Face (2012) — the artist’s alter-ego/avatar. It is a mischievous persona whose jeweled eyes stare at you with a beguiling cockeyed look, girly and naughty, sprouting two miniature babes from her head tied together with an umbilical cord of whimsy, all nestled in a red witch’s conical hat, perched on a shelf. It is a fairy tale world of contradictions for both children and adults. Dorosh’s work often celebrates the exuberance of a child’s wildly unfettered originality including “critters” and “comfort objects,” and often locates the sculptural images into moody, religious-themed 19th century engravings. Since, she says “we live in a world of replication, ad infinitum” individual frames that cannot be duplicated are integrated into each digital image. With what she calls an “allegiance to rescuing old art . . . enjoying the idea of fusing the past with the present [and] time being bridged…” there is an essential element of the DEEP Play series. What Dorosh calls, “humor with a bite.” An example is To Look (2012), where Doily Face becomes anthropomorphized — eyes popping in uncertain fascination at the cataclysmic forces of nature erupting, a volcano spewing out fire with smoke crashing into the water cooling the glowering heat.