FAIRY TALE OF THE “SNOWGIRL”, 1994
Designed and fabricated by Khaim Pinkhasik (born 1940), Chicago.
Based on the Russian fairy tale told to Khaim Pinkhasik as a child, the nocturnal scene depicts Father Winter in full white beard in a snow filled landscape, the centre of which is a Christmas tree with its star full ablaze. In the foreground, Daughter Snow is holding a lantern while all around her animals of the forests come out to look.
Though the scene is based on childhood stories, it may also be an allegory for Soviet severity which even at its most stern and cold, represented by Father Winter, could not suppress the spirit of the people, the Daughter of Snow, to find beauty all around and celebrate tradition.
The mosaic on display is composed of many individual pieces of glass, each hand-cut and placed in its designated place. There is no paint used to enhance color or shading in this process. Choice of color and size dictate the various intricacies and details.
It is not unusual for a large mosaic to have several thousand pieces of precisely hand-cut and placed glass, often requiring many months of intensive hand labor to complete.
Pinkhasik was born in 1940 in Minsk, Russia where he also attended the local art school and graduated in 1965. Over the next 15 years Pinkhasik received many commissions in the former Soviet Union to do mosaics of the Communist leaders, Lenin and Stalin, as well as many lesser Soviet officials. His work can still be seen in numerous public buildings and museums throughout the former Soviet Union.
In 1980 a Jewish organization sponsored Pinkhasik and his wife Valentina to immigrate to the United States and settle in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1982 he moved to Chicago. His work has been widely praised, including an appearance on the Jay Leno Show and CNN, while his mosaic portraits of Illinois Governor George Ryan and former President George Bush have received wide publicity.
One of the principle oppressions Pinkhasik endured was that of controlled artistic expression. He yearned to be unhindered in form and subject. His release came upon coming to America and can be felt in his more recent work. Pinkhasik believes that in America “there is freedom to blossom and grow in artistic creativity”. There is also a deep spiritual heritage that has begun to emerge in his work as he acknowledges his God-given talent while enjoying unfettered expression. Like his mosaics he is illuminated from within.
For centuries intricately detailed scenes have been depicted by inlaying small pieces of variously colored materials to form pictures or patterns. Mosaics have adorned public places as well as the homes of nobility and commoner alike. Mosaics have been done with wood chips, colored stones and tiles, glass and semi-precious stones.
For the first time, however, inspired mosaics are being presented in translucent glass.
This process was developed by Khaim Pinkhasik. Each individual piece of glass is hand cut and placed into the design. Intricate detail is achieved by the size and shape of the glass pieces alone without the use of hand painting. Color is dependent upon the stained glass stock and again, is not accomplished by hand painting or tinting.
Generally, mosaics are inlaid with opaque materials in some form of cement. Therefore, they can be viewed from the front only. Pinkhasik mosaics are different because they are made of translucent glass pieces set with a clear fixative on clear glass. The result is a work that is not only viewable from the front, but from the back as well. In addition, the completed work is translucent which means natural light brings them to live like no other mosaic before. When used as a window they become vastly more significant than leaded glass. An entirely new and breathtaking dimension is revealed when artificial light is applied from behind.