- born in 1951 in New Jersey, United States
- immigrated to Toronto, Ontario in 1973
- parents immigrated to United States from Ukraine in 1949
- B.F.A. Rutger's University (1973)
click on thumbnails at left to view larger images
Natalka Husar has consistently used her painting to
express concerns related to her Ukrainian heritage. Having visited her parents' homeland,
once in 1969 during the communist regime, and then in 1992 and 1993, after independence
was declared, Husar has taken the issue of ethnicity and interwoven it with her own
feminist concerns. As a Ukrainian-American woman, she grew up with an ideal of womanhood
that was silent and compliant, even decorative, and this ideal was always in contrast with
the self she saw as powerful and aggressive. In her work, Husar struggles with the
conflict between these identities, between the place of her parents' birth and the place
she now inhabits, between Ukraine and the North American Ukrainian community with its
myths of Ukraine. Beginning with Faces-Facades in 1980, a series of masks hung in
frames with clothing to create portraits of the Ukrainian people in Husar's life, the
artist has made images of Ukrainians, as they adapt to American or Canadian life, that are
at once painful and absurd. Gary Michael Dault commented in Border Crossings in 1995:
"Natalka Husar is in the enviable terrifying position of being a realist who is also
a female artist (though not paradigmatically) who is also the inheritor of a set of
cultural assumptions . . . which have plummeted into freefall with the dismantling of
communism and the end of ideology. . . . She is simultaneously possessor of a child's
dancing wonder before the haughty beauties of art history (the tumbles of drapery, the
gathering of silks and sheens and runic embroidering, the wantonness of spilled fruit, the
aching nostalgia of lone vistas) and the curator of deep suspicions about the emptiness of
beauty and the amoral lullabies of symbolism and ritual." This dichotomous feeling
returns consistently in her work. In Behind the Irony Curtain (1985) Husar explores
the Ukrainian immigrant experience through oversized and often unflattering portraits of
Ukrainian-Canadian life. In her Milk and Blood series (1988) there is a slight
shift in subject matter to images specifically related to the female immigrants
experience, in which Husar also begins to use the contrast between elaborate detail and
beautifully-worked surface, and difficult, hard-hitting subject matter. This was followed
by Natalka Husar's True Confessions (1991), a series in which each painting
contains a self-portrait of the artist, and Black Sea Blue (1995). In the latter
series, the effect of returning to Ukraine with her mother, for the first time since 1969,
is a preoccupation for Husar. Referring specifically to the painting Pandora's Parcel
to Ukraine (1993), Husar writes: "Once I opened to that reality it was like some
Pandora's Box--I couldnt fit my feelings back neatly again. Though my mother's house
seemed romantic, with big fat peaches against the blue-washed walls, it wasn't in the
Theme-Park Ukraine of my Canadian mind" (1994). In complicated images that overlap
the past and the present, the land of riches (America) and the land of poverty (Ukraine),
Husar depicts her personal journey and her perception of the contrast between her mother's
world and her own.
||Black Sea Blue
Douglas Udell Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia; Rosemont Art Gallery, Regina,
Saskatchewan; Douglas Udell Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta; The Robert McLaughlin Gallery,
Oshawa, Ontario; Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
||McIntosh Gallery, London,
||Natalka Husar's True
La Centrale-Powerhouse, Montréal, Québec; White Water Gallery, North Bay, Ontario;
Woltjen/Udell Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia; Woltjen/Udell Gallery, Edmonton,
Alberta; Garnet Press, Toronto, Ontario; Plug-In Inc., Winnipeg, Manitoba
||Milk and Blood
Women in Focus, Vancouver, British Columbia; Ukrainian Cultural Educational Centre,
Winnipeg, Manitoba; Garnet Press, Toronto, Ontario; Laurentian Museum and Arts Centre,
Sudbury, Ontario; Latitude 53 Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta; Station Gallery, Whitby,
Ontario; Forest City Gallery, London, Ontario
||Behind the Irony Curtain
Garnet Press, Toronto, Ontario; Manitoba Theatre Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Nancy Poole's Studio, Toronto, Ontario; Citadel Theatre, Rice Gallery, Edmonton,
||Here's Looking At Me Kid
Art Gallery of North York, North York, Ontario
L.A. International Biennial Art Invitational
Sherry Frumkin Gallery, Santa Monica, California
Bowling Green State University Art Gallery, Ohio
||Searching for My Mother's
Art Gallery of Mississauga, Mississauga, Ontario
||The Urban and the Urbane
Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico City, Mexico
||Our of the Drawer
A Space, Toronto, Ontario
||Art and Ethnicity
Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull, Québec
Edmonton Art Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta
Wedding: A Ceremony
Art Gallery of York University, North York, Ontario
Memory and Subjectivity
Garnet Press, Toronto, Ontario; Tom Thomson Memorial Gallery, Owen Sound, Ontario;
Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Thunder Bay, Ontario; Laurentian Museum and Arts Centre, Sudbury,
||No Place Like Home
SAW Gallery, Ottawa, Ontario
Garnet Press, Toronto, Ontario; Tom Thomson Memorial Gallery, Owen Sound, Ontario
McIntosh Gallery, London, Ontario
|Art Gallery of Hamilton, Hamilton, Ontario
Canada Council Art Bank, Ottawa, Ontario
Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull, Québec
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, Ontario
The Toronto Sun, Toronto, Ontario
|Art and Ethnicity. Hull, Québec:
Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1991.
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Boily, Lise. "Ethnicity and communication." Culture
9, no. 1-2 (1991): 165-66.
Bourgeois, Gail. "No Place Like Home-Galerie
SAW." C Magazine (Fall 1989): 75-6.
Contemporary Canadian Figure. London, Ontario:
McIntosh Gallery, 1988.
Dault, Gary Michael. "Oceana: Natalka Husar's Black
Sea Blue." Border Crossings 14, no. 3 (Summer 1995): 60-67.
Edmonton Art Gallery. Dangerous Goods. Edmonton,
Alberta: Edmonton Art Gallery, 1990.
Elliot, Bridget, and Janice Williamson. Dangerous
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---. "Desperately seeking Ukrainian: The recent
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---. "Husar's painterly layers reveal personal
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---. "Natalka Husar mourns Ukraine's
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---. "A Pre-emptive Strike." In Black Sea
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---. "Portrait of the artist as an angry young
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