Elena Volkova



Several concepts come to mind when thinking about liminality: uncertainty, openness, potential, as well as the state of becoming, transition, and neutrality.  From a practical perspective, this is the state of Neither-Nor or Either-Or, quantitatively holding the same value and relevance in opposition.  The Liminal surrounds us; it is the periphery of every moment of our existence, the behind-the-scenes background of our reality.  It makes no judgments or assertions and it constitutes our everyday mundane poetry.  It is simply there.  In the liminal state, the boundaries and factors dissolve, bringing overlooked but existing moments to the foreground.  

The Window Project

A window is liminal.  It is a transition between the inside and the outside, being neither one nor the other – or perhaps it is both.  Windows bring us glimpses of what is on the other side.  They are the lens through which our expectations, our hopes, and often our disappointments are brought to reality.  However, windows remain neutral and indifferent to our outlook and perceptions.    

The Window Project is about liminal space.  It is a site-responsive installation that utilizes the windows in the Area 405 gallery.  The Window Project challenges our perceptions and expectations;viewers expecting to encounter windows can instead find themselves facing a brick wall.  This is a reality that defeats the entire purpose of a window; it presents the viewer with a window to nowhere.  These windows create absurd situations in which our expectations and judgments are inconsequential.  All possible romantic notions about windows fall – they are transformed into dysfunctional architectural elements that have a disconcerting impact.  However, if a window is a neutral entity and only the means to either confirm or reject our expectations regarding “the other side”, it still serves its liminal purpose.  It is still merely a threshold.


Paperscapes is a series of graphite drawings that also focus on the idea of liminality.  Paperscapes are drawings of blank pieces of paper on white paper.  By definition, a “scape”, as in landscape, is an expanse of scenery, a vista; it is a representation of something extensive.  Paperscapes present the viewer with a blank page, a field, a vista where nothing is happening.  But at the same time the drawings suggest potential and the state of becoming.


Born and raised in Kiev, Ukraine, Elena Volkova moved to the U.S. in 1994, where she earned two degrees from the Maryland Institute College of Art: a Master of Fine Art (M.F.A.) in Studio Arts as well as a Bachelor of Fine Art (B.F.A.) in Photography.

Elena’s work has been exhibited in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New York, Philadelphia, Illinois and Virginia.  She had a solo exhibition of photographs and drawings at the Paperwork Gallery in Baltimore, titled Waterlines in 2008.  This exhibition addressed the ephemeral nature of water and presented fleeting images of waves, clouds, and snow.   Airscapes, an exhibit in 2008 at Flashpoint gallery in D.C., presented a collection of large-scale prints of barely perceptible images of clouds.   

Elena's current body of work focuses on the idea of legibility and the limited amount of information required for a viewer to identify a subject.  It also addresses the viewer's awareness of boundaries and their interaction with an art space.

Elena has received several recognitions and awards for her work, including the Janis Meyer Traveling Fellowship, which allowed her to photograph remote areas of Russia in 2003.

Volkova resides in Baltimore, Maryland, where she is an adjunct photography professor at Goucher College and teaches art at Seton Keough High School

Elena Volkova_Window Project Elena Volkova_Window Project Elena Volkova_Window Project Elena Volkova_Window Project_04 Elena Volkova_Window Project Elena Volkova_paper scape_01 Elena Volkov_paper scape_02 Elena Volkova_paper scape_03
Window Project, 2009
Digital photo prints of window panes, tape, Velcro, fishing line, eye-hooks
        Untitled (Paperscape), 2009
Pencil on paper, clips, spray-paint
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