Informed Art


Adriana Rostovsky’s Upcycled Art

While of Uruguayan nationality, my family roots are European. My art is informed and driven by economic crisis in European history. During times of economic turmoil, recycling was not a question of fashion but of survival.

This historical influence has woven its way into my work, sometimes in the name of a piece, other times in the emotions reflected in my compositions. My years in Holland also effected my work, as did my architectural studies that focused on sustainability, and my travels abroad. It is as if I re-read things past, walk again on the same paths, to trace the stepping stones that have brought me to the here and now.

Technique is defined as the need to modify the surroundings, and is characterized by being transmittable, which in my case was via my grandmother who influenced my work when I visited her workshop as a child. Through passionate observation, I learned how she knotted remnants of wool, leather and fabric into unique tapestries. I spent hours admiring how she created beauty out of nothing with only the scraps she had handy. Over the years, I expressed my feelings and emotions through the visual arts. To my surprise, I found myself working in a technique similar to tapestry weaving, a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and adapted to the materials of my preference.

The starting point for each of my pieces is a strong sensation inside me, something that starts to move, acting as an impetus for my creations. My pieces grow and change with me. They cinch and tighten with my emotions, and again expand like my thoughts. They tangle and connect, freeing themselves from the restrictions of the canvas as human reality does, and overflowing from the vertical plane as the unexpected does to our expectations.

It is the need to mold this intangible feeling into something visual and tactile, generating protuberances that push from the inside out, sections that enter and exit. Sometimes the pieces grow rapidly and mute in color and shape. Other times there are abrupt stops and violent changes in tone and texture, and even portions that become rigid and frozen. It is like sewing without a needle, painting with out a brush, giving the tones with materials and stitching by

This creative period varies depending on the complexity of the piece rather than on the size. I prepare my “mate,” turn on my music, and slowly begin to rummage through my treasures. I do not force the direction of my pieces. Instead, I allow myself to listen to their rhythm, discovering their desire as we grow together, allowing for moments of quiet observation and sometimes I reach a point when I cannot go forward. I will stop working on a piece while I clear my physical and emotional surroundings and return to it later. Sometimes what will become a “small piece” will take longer to complete than a piece that is much larger in size.

The materials tell me which and how to use them. I cannot work with virgin materials. Instead I work with those that have a history, a past—things that belonged to someone else. Once they have crossed the door into my studio, they become my materials and treasures.

I do not work from a fixed set of rules. My work never begins with a theme in mind nor a specific preoccupation over technique or form. Each piece is an accumulation and consolidation of an experience linked to a specific time. I will take an old magazine, wet and wrinkle it, tear it, and reconnect it with knots. A moving box will get stomped on, and wool and fabric woven into it, generating the sensation of movement and growth.

I believe my pieces are complete when they contain what started inside of me, when I have birthed the piece, and can now see it in front of me. From the beginning of my work as an artist, the intention has been to transition from the intangible dimensions of emotion to the tangible expression through materials and also to pieces that are not bound by space, but exist with no support other than itself. The latter invites the audience to experience the piece from inside, to become one with the piece, and to be surprised by its unexpected and transformative aspects.

Born in Uruguay, Adriana Rostovsky trained as an architect. Her art is informed and driven by a European history of conservation, of not discarding. Her artwork has been in group and solo exhibitions in Uruguay, Holland, Fairfield County, CT, and New York City. Currently she teaches Mixed Media courses for adults at the 92Y in NYC, where she was also commissioned to create a piece for a major cultural celebration. She has also developed and delivered an art program for children focused on creating by repurposing household objects.