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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

“Oksana’s Doll”

This is the name of an exhibit now underway at the National Museum of Ukrainian Folk Decorative Art. It displays rag dolls made by the well-known Lviv mistress Oksana Smereka-Malyk
16 April, 2014 - 17:40
Photo from the website LYALKA.LVIV.UA

“Each of my dolls is made of natural cotton or flax. For decoration I use not only natural, but also synthetic textiles,” Oksana SMEREKA-MALYK says. “And I made my first dolls from flowers (dahlia buds, and dress from mallows). A friend of mine from Belgium came to visit me in 2009. It was her birthday, and I was thinking about what to present her with. I went to art exhibit and began to choose a doll. There was no doll boom at the time. I bought one and radically altered it. This doll ‘lives’ in Brussels now.

“I made the doll Uliana for a Mykolaiv-Dnistrovsky book fair dedicated to Uliana Kravchenko. The doll was in wormwood colors that matched best of all the acetic image of the poetess, a contemporary of Ivan Franko. Since then I have continued to ‘play’ in dolls.”

The mistress has made a wire-framed rag doll by combining tradition and innovation. All her compositions are dynamic – costumes and poses convey the character type and suddenly create the impression of a live picture. The authoress says she does not aim to stick to some regional ethnography. She makes her dolls’ attire and emotional mood quite spontaneously.

It will be recalled that the mistress is director of an art lyceum at the Lviv Academy of Arts. Apart from dolls, she paints over Easter eggs and composes poems. Rag dolls have been her hobby for four years. She has displayed her dolls at exhibits in Lviv, Kyiv, Luhansk, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lutsk, Cherkasy, and other cities. Smereka-Malyk was a coauthor of a three-meter reeled doll made to be presented in Lviv at the closing ceremony of Ethno-Doll 2011 festival. This work was included into Ukraine Records Book. She is member of the jury of national competitions of folk dolls and the embroidered shirts’ parade, the author of several poetry books, and a prize winner at the 12th Myron Utrysk literary contest.

“Oksana’s Doll” is the only exhibit in cycles (Hutsul, French, and flower-based) that seem to have something in common with the authoress’ poems. The exposition is open until May 10.