Yana Payusova

Assistant Professor, Art and Art History


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“Eye of Faith,” (mixed media on archival digital print) from Payusova’s Russian Prison series.


While you could trace Yana Payusova’s artistic roots all the way back to her days of training at a fine arts academy in Saint Petersburg, Russia—“It’s a little bit like Hogwarts,” she says—her identity as an artist didn’t begin coming into focus until she shot five rolls of film inside a Russian prison.

The process of scanning and digitizing the photos, then printing and painting on their surface, ignited a new passion in her for creating.

art by Yana Payusova
“Origins” (ceramic), a selection from the Revolutions series.

“It crystallized this idea of what I was after in art, where I could use my formal training while working to make something completely new,” she says. “It also felt like I was digging a well as I continued working with the ideas in the series, going deeper and deeper, and that was very different than how I had worked previously. I’ve been working in this manner ever since.”

Today, Payusova’s art has been featured in galleries across the globe, including in a recent exhibition at the New Taipei City Yingge Ceramics Museum in Taiwan. In her paintings and sculptures, she blends the styles and symbols of folk art, icons, graphic poster art, comics, and more, all reflecting her cultural heritage and her training in traditional Russian realist painting.

Payusova also draws inspiration from her students and colleagues. Now in her third year at UTA, she says she was drawn to the University in part because of its status as a toptier research institution.

“I was craving a community like this,” she says. “Here, you can talk to people who do political science, who are historians—and my best friend is a classics professor. We have these amazing conversations, and those can inform my work, too.”

They also can lead to exciting collaborations, like those found in her forthcoming debut as a featured artist at the newest site for Meow Wolf—an arts production company that creates immersive multimedia experiences—in Grapevine, Texas. A computer science colleague, Assistant Professor Cesar Torres, and Fernando Johnson, senior lecturer of art and art history, are both consulting on her installation.

“It’s a good example of the beauty of being at the University, because we can help each other achieve these visions,” she says. “We all live in the same world, the same planet, and you don’t necessarily want to be in your art silo as a creator. There are a lot of interesting things that can happen when we get together and talk.”

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Summer 2023 Magazine

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