Natasha Dikareva was born and raised in Kiev, Ukraine, and studied fine art in St. Petersburg, Russia. She immigrated to Minnesota in 1995 and received her MFA from the University of Minnesota. She now lives and works in San Francisco. Her work is featured in various publications, including 500 Prints on Clay and New Ceramics European magazine, and is held in public and private collections. She exhibits locally and internationally.
Evolution of Shell Dweller
Natasha Dikareva’s work expresses the desire for security in an insecure world. Her hybrid figures are both static and animated, withdrawing into their shells yet visually narrating their stories. Engravings and paintings on their surfaces identify their unique experiences and tell us why they might be seeking safety at the moment. As they slowly evolve out from their shells, they see a bright future where the need for hiding is no longer a necessity, when all stories are shared and intertwined through common understanding.
“I started the Shell Dweller series in 2010. They grew out of a preoccupation with constant catastrophes and disasters around the world. I felt as if I would like to hide in my own shell to be safe. My first Shell Dwellers were pale and minimal in color pallete. The symbols on their surfaces developed a visual narrative, communicating their personal myths and identities, their adventures through labyrinths and deserts, their encounters with other strange creatures. Later, as I mustered hope, my Shell Dwellers started to emerge from their homes. Their heads would still stay inside the shells, so as not be disturbed by the constant negativity of news media. Instead, they were tuning to their inner essence. Listening to the rhythm of their own organism, their skin developed new kinds of imagery. Their surfaces brightened up with colorful glazes, underglazes, custom made decals, and intricate China painting. Reminiscent of photographs slowly developing in the dark room, misty surfaces hinted at hidden layers. By 2014 my Shell Dwellers completely lost their shells and moved to bathtubs to escape the frenzy and chaos. I called them Escapists. Tuning into the feminine element of water, they also immerse themselves in emotion, purification, intuition, the subconscious, and the mysteries of the self. The instruments of their immersion–books and digital devices–offered them a gateway to another reality. The surfaces of bathtubs and their bodies continued to hint at their inner existence, to depict the places of their fantasy and poetry of the books they read, to flash fleeting dreams. Most recently I have been exploring glass blowing as a technique to incorporate translucent elements into my figures. The Shell Dwellers have transformed into Knights of Flowers and Clouds, whose armor is similarly protective yet they are less vulnerable and more active. Instead of simply hiding and ignoring their surroundings, these armored figures have set out on a quest for beauty and poetry. The Holy Grail is within and all around us.” Natasha Dikareva