Sunday, September 26, 2021

Katya Popova: A Somerville Artist whose ideas charge her visual decisions.

 Katya Popova, is a Somerville artist, who maintains a studio at the Vernon St. Studios in our city. She is a woman brimming with ideas, and the ideas spark her visual and sound presentations.

Popova, who is originally from Moscow, in the Soviet Union, said she moved here in the summer of 2008. She said, " I was impressed with the vibrancy of the community." Soon she got involved with an artist collaborative in Sullivan Square. She became acquainted with a number of artists, who worked in many different mediums. She reflected, " That was fine. I fit between many different mediums. Here I found the opportunity to express myself. Somerville in general has this wonderful mix of working class, tech people, students and artists. It was very stimulating." Sadly, Popova and her husband had to leave Somerville because of pandemic concerns, and skyrocketing rents.  They hope to return in the near future.

Popova told me that over time she became interested in music.  She said, " When I was teaching music in the  New England Conservatory I became acquainted with many students and faculty, and I started to experiment with audio.  I worked with toy theatre on Zoom,  street theatre, and other projects. More and more I started to get into performance art. Performance art is all about working with time.  I love the ephemeral quality of performance."

I asked Popova if there is a Russian community of artists in Somerville. She told me that she doesn't see that. The artists are there but they are all spread out. She continued, " People of my father's generation hung out, drank and talked about craft and life," But for Popova this is not evident here.

When the artist came to America she lived on the North Shore. She was 17 or 18 and became fascinated with the ocean. Before her transformation into a multi-media artist, she gravitated to the sea. This was natural for her. Popova reflects, " I was into landscape painting in Russia--so painting the sea fit naturally." Popova also told me that she was influenced by the Gloucester painter Edward Hooper with his muted colors and stillness.

Popova also creates and works with puppets. She has worked at the famed Bread and Puppet Theatre. Presently she is involved in a project, that as she describes it deals with, " The absurdity of creating weapons of mass destruction. She said, " It is heavy but it also has abstract beauty. It is influenced by opera, particularly Wagner's " Ring Cycle"." She said, " The piece makes a moral compass to the horror of the production of weapons of mass destruction."

I asked her if she thinks believed art should provide a moral compass. She replied, " I don't want art to veer off to propaganda. Coming from Russia I am very sensitive to this. But, of course propaganda art can be very good in itself."

To find out more about Popova go to:

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