Sofya Belinskaya

Хліб-сіль: Of Bread and Salt

Хліб-сіль, the Ukrainian custom of offering bread and salt to guests represents respect, hospitality, and goodwill. Both are sustaining, long-lasting, and symbolize the essence of life.

Sofya Belinskaya. Liudmyla, Oleg, Yeva, and Olga, 2023. Watercolor on paper. 47 1/2 x 63 1/2 inches. Photo: Josh True
  • January 4 - 25, 2024
  • Opening: Thursday, January 4, 6:00 — 8:00pm

Through large-scale watercolor portraits and oral histories, Sofya Belinskaya chronicles the heartfelt experiences of families, many living in Seattle, who were uprooted due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. She centers the question: How do we remember home when we are displaced?

Each painting begins as a conversation with the family in an attempt to weave together fragments of home. Through the intimate act of sharing stories, symbols, mementos, animal companions, and everyday objects emerge and are rendered in technicolor as an intricate web of memories set within intimate spaces. Belinskaya pairs these ethereal scenes with anecdotal audio excerpts; her participant’s voices delineate the collective yet uniquely individual experience of displacement.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees reports there are 5.1 million internally displaced people in Ukraine and 6.2 million refugees from Ukraine globally. The process of recalling and commemorating markers of identity, tradition, and place for those separated from their homeland reveals a mechanism for coping through preservation. Хліб-сіль: Of Bread and Salt is a reminder of the toll international wars inflict on worldwide communities and an acknowledgement of our resolute perseverance.

This project was generously funded by a 4Culture Arts Project Grant.

About the Artist

Sofya Belinskaya is a Ukrainian-American painter and draftswoman born in Donetsk, Ukraine and based in Seattle. She holds a BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Tufts University and has received awards and grants from 4Culture, Artists for Artists Prize in Drawing, and CityArts. Past regional exhibitions have been mounted at Linda Hodges Gallery, Gray Sky Gallery, and Axis Gallery. Belinskaya was a founding member of Lion’s Main Collective, a multi-disciplinary queer and trans art collective working on collaborative projects including SAM’s Summer in the Park series and the Henry Art Gallery Open House. She is also a member of SOIL Gallery and a teaching artist who has instructed courses at Pratt Fine Arts Center, Meta Open Arts, and Amazon.