Daria Aksenova is best known for her dream-like shadow box art in which she uses paper to tell stories about folklore and mythology. Each 3D composition consists of layers of hand-cut and inked paper, carefully placed together in decorative box frames.
The light boxes created by Aksenova manage to convey an incredible emotion in her works where they evoke her research on folklore, myths and the symbolism of objects or beings related to the theme through different cultures.
“I have always been fascinated with storytelling, starting with childhood bedside fables and mythology,” says Aksenova. “My mission is to bring back our childhood imaginations that are drowned out by the everyday bustle in our ever-busy lives.” Taking many hours to complete, each shadow box is full of enchanting hand-drawn details that illustrate imaginary worlds and the creatures living within.
“Much of my inspiration arises through a fascination with mythology and folklore. Each piece tells an elaborate story about human behaviors rooted in the human condition such as growth, aspiration, emotion, interpersonal relations, conflict, transformation, and mortality”, she confides.
Each shadow box takes up to a hundred hours to finish, the hand-drawn details require a lot of concentration because they represent invisible words and creatures that have escaped everyone’s imagination. She carefully selects her work material because it can help to draw the viewer back into old stories, almost repressed childhood memories, a gateway to an escapism that is pure and innocent.
In every shadow box there is a complicated story, sometimes with a tendency towards science fiction, horror, but always brought in an enchanting and hypnotic way, so that it is extremely accessible to anyone who can or wants to recognize that there are dreams in his or her soul. The nice thing is that every viewer sees something different in her art, because everyone’s expectations and dreams are different and unique.
Aksenova’s use of layers simultaneously is really a metaphor in conveying the multi-faceted layers of her female protagonists found in the vast majority of her shadow boxes. Symbols of identity, restriction and emancipation echo feminist sensibilities. Aksenova is a visual raconteur who skillfully makes use of her medium to equally excite and question the viewer. A balance of playful storytelling in conjunction with deeper seeded significance heavily influenced by the supernatural stories of her childhood.
The artist employs ink as it is an unforgiving medium that precludes editing and demands precision. Individual elements are then hand-cut with a scalpel and suspended against each other until the desired depth is achieved. Her technique demands a steady hand and unfailing commitment.