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4 Questions With MASC artist… Kseniya Tsoy

Kseniya Tsoy is a new Canadian socially engaged artist, originally from Uzbekistan. As a visual artist, her work is dedicated to raising awareness of cultural diversity and promoting equity and inclusion of cultures less known. In her own experience as someone from Uzbekistan, it is exactly these places that struggle from negative stereotypes and discrimination resulting from a lack of information and general knowledge about these parts of the world.

Kseniya Tsoy is a proud MASC artist. MASC is Wellington West’s charity partner this ARTS Season. The Ottawa-based arts organization represents a roster of 138 professional artists of diverse backgrounds, who offer workshops, performances, and artist-in-residence programs in all artistic disciplines to schools and communities across Canada.

Kseniya approaches these difficult topics through lightheartedness and humour. Recently, she created this mini mural in collaboration with Hintonburg Community Association’s “Racism is a Pandemic Too” project. The image features Kseniya’s signature illustrated character – a girl from Uzbekistan striking the legendary “Rosie the Riveter” pose, with the word “IMMIGRANT” instead of “We Can Do It”. The rest of the box is adorned with the iconic imagery of Uzbek suzani – a Central Asian embroidery art performed exclusively by women. Traditionally women made these tapestries as part of their dowries and sew into them well-wishing symbols of abundance, fertility, and good luck.

“As a female immigrant in three different countries, I feel the common experience was that I always had to prove to everyone that “I can do it”. This image is meant to empower female immigrants that WE CAN DO IT. It is also a reminder to the community at large to trust that we can 🙂

1. Tell us about some of the artistic work you’ve done in Wellington West:

I just created a mini mural in collaboration via “Hintonburg Community Association’s Racism is a Pandemic Too” project and it is my first mark in the neighborhood!

2. What do you find inspiring about Wellington West?

I love the beautiful array of local designer boutiques and indie cafes along Wellington West. It is like a curated selection! I really like how together they create a community, you can feel it. I have been in Canada for only three years, and it was on Wellington West when I experienced what Christmas Carols are like for the first time or the tradition to take photos with Santa with my little one. 

3. What are some of your favourite spots to visit when you’re out and about in Hintonburg and Wellington Village?

I literally wouldn’t be able to name favorites, because what I actually like about Wellington West is going out for a cafes and boutiques “crawl”. So I think my favorite is the actual combination of all these together, they make up the “Wellington West experience” for me.

I do want to say I was sad to see Jamari Café go. Besides their amazing menu, they were the only café in town that know of that had an untraditional sitting option – a raised platform where I could enjoy coffee just like we do it in Uzbekistan, where I am from.

I am also a big geography nerd and I love maps and collect unusual globes, so one place that is especially dear to me on Wellington West is the “World of Maps”. My kind of happy place!

4. What projects do you have coming up?

I am excited for the upcoming community-engaged mural in collaboration with Anishnaabe artist Mark Seabrook this summer (you can see his stunning paintings in Morning Owl on Armstrong!). We are going to paint a cluster of seven utility boxes into a sculpturesque public art. Seven is an auspicious number in both of our cultures, and it will be infused in the design concept. Playing with the fact that Mark is native of the land and myself is a recent newcomer, this mural will be a visual celebration of our difference yet connection.

I definitely loved working in the Hintonburg community and I hope to come back!

For more info on Kseniya’s work, check out her website