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olya salimova is a russian-american artist now living in US / she considers how her body has crossed borders and become a transplant / transformation and hybridity are the ideas and methods that guide her art practice  


salimova holds her bfa degree from the school of the art institute of chicago with her previous degree in philology and English, and an MBA / her multivalent life and work experiences – from translation to project management and from bodybuilding to arts – manifest themselves in experiments with many materials, techniques and approaches  


salimova currently lives and works in both MI and IL / she is an alumna of a-year-and-a-half long BOLT 2023-2024 artists' residency at chicago artist coalition and exhibited her work in multiple exhibitions in american midwest / she had two solo shows / her latest solo show titled the cyborgs undone, the ghosts came to light, the ancestors control the future took place in 2024 at chicago artists coalition 

what I know is what a bee does as she gathers knowledge through experience – the material of the flowers of the fields / as she uses the skills of her own to digest and transform it into something more than the bee herself / she does this in a form of honey, and she builds a colony
this is how knowledge is produced

i consider how my body has crossed borders, become a transplant, and is in a perpetual state of transformation / change and cross-referential approach to art making are at the seed of my studio practice

my guiding principle is radical openness – to genres and methods / my approach is a bee approach – to gather knowledge by laboring, moving from flower to flower, or from reference to reference, use my body, skill and assiduity to digest and transform what I gather into art (honey,) and build a colony

i create textured sculptures, paintings and prints that use poetic titles and are supported by performances / this way, the visual, linguistic and performative aspects of my work intermingle / i initiate collaborations physically with friends and colleagues, and spiritually with writers, poets, musicians, photographers

i engage with beeswax often while my art making depends on natural world observation and dreaming / i employ metaphors of bees and gardening: an artist laborer like a bee, a member of a hive society, a living organism whose body is her own tool, a studio practice as gardening where creative seeds are sown, propagated and nurtured / the beeswax is used for paintings and sculptures – solo or in combination with fortuitous materials / i use such processes as melting, transforming, experimenting, and genre cross-pollinating / my goals are to create objects and spaces of transformation, dreamed-up reality, new mythology, and poetry / my polyphonic world is one of a being of nature, an artist, and an immigrant

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Alma x CSI, ALMA, Chicago, IL

the cyborgs undone, the ghosts came to light, the ancestors control the future, Chicago Artists Coalition, Chicago, IL 


Beesworks, SITE Galleries, Chicago, IL     

Group Shows


EXPO Chicago, Chicago, IL


Elemental Impact, Epiphany Center for the Arts, Chicago IL

Works in Progress, Chicago Artists Coalition, Chicago, IL 

Form Within: Unveiling Hidden Aesthetics, CSI Project Space, Chicago, IL

Alive, CSI Project Space, Chicago, IL

Dreamer Warriors, Detroit Artists Market, Detroit, MI

Seeds Of Change / Resilience, 22 North, Ypsilanti, MI

MSA Select, Pam Miller Downtown Art Center, Lexington, KY

Story Time, CSI Project Space, Chicago, IL 

Concerning Landscape, DAM, Detroit, MI

Little But Bold, CSI Project Space, Chicago, IL


Responding to Rhythms, Beverly Arts Center, Chicago, IL        

By Degrees, 3D4D, Chicago Sculpture International, Chicago, IL 


COME|BACK, SAIC Galleries Wellness Center, Chicago, IL        

Don’t Mind The Thing, Wedge Projects, Chicago, IL

New Work 2021, SAIC Galleries, Chicago, IL

Making It, SAIC Galleries Wellness Center, Chicago, IL

Import/Export Exhibition, Kent State University, Kent, OH

Where We Are, SITE Galleries, SAIC, Chicago, IL    


Art Over COVID, online

Art-In-Place, CNL Projects+Terrain Exhibitions, MI-IL  


Public Sculpture


Flight of Butterflies, Nature Museum of Chicago, Chicago, IL



Rememberings, Chicago Artists Coalition, Chicago, IL


Origins, Chicago Artists Coalition, Chicago, IL

Excavations, Middle Folk Ranch, Lions, CO


Consecrations, SITE Galleries, Chicago, IL

Work, SITE Galleries, Chicago, IL

Space Travel, online 

Body Into Dill, residential space in Brooklyn, MI 


Muscle Memory, Brooklyn, MI-Chicago, IL

Community work


Beeswax wrapper workshop, campus of School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL



Fund Your Practice Grant, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL 

Lectures/artist talks/engagements 


The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL


Saint Xavier University, Chicago, IL 


School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL




BOLT Residency, Chicago Artists Coalition, Chicago, IL



welcome to my studio


this is a place where i dream, make, and think / i am a visual artist whose practice sprawls across painting, sculpture, performance, and poetry

when i work in my studio, i view myself as a gardener, and my studio work is a gardening practice /

i sow seeds of creativity, they propagate, then grow / and i like to propagate several things at a time / the gardening aspect is important because often i work with beeswax and this is where bees come from / an artist works like a bee / through this bee metaphor, i speak to the perpetual labor artists put in working with the material they have at their disposal

there is a cycle of what bees, beekeepers, and artists do / as for me, there is a cycle to my work too – i delve into new art forms periodically and my process consists of micro-cycles: visualizing, making, questioning, listening to the material of choice, questioning again, writing, and reflecting


my approach is both backward- and forward-looking: i like to use the materials that have been lying in and around my studio for some time, found, or gifted, and to create something new / i like to think of myself as a neo-mythic apiphilic archi-materialist:)


by neo-mythic i mean that i create new myths to replace old ones / apiphilic simply means that i am fond of bees / the archi-material approach means that i use old materials – both in a sense of abandonment and familiar through history, like beeswax, wood, steel, and leather


i want to guide you away from the studio for just a moment...


i am on the move a lot – walking, driving, or taking a train / when i do that, i think of questions i would ask myself, reflecting on my own work and see where they stem from / being on the road is really helpful because that is where the thinking happens / this way, i can see how all processes inform each other / all are equal, necessary and important / among many thoughts that visit me when i drive is a thought about what will be left here after me, after us / my work is both informed by the past and alluding to the future

back to the studio

currently, my studio is in chicago / i also have a place in michigan where i read, write and think / i change and my work evolves with me / i began to think more poetically about the the work i do / finding new words to describe or discover the elements in my art-making practice that propel it forward is exciting to me / when it comes to figurative art, the images i create now are of beings in a perpetual state of transformation / they are forming and fading away like all images are

a note on performance:

my performances are often collaborations with both professional artists and non-artists / my goal is to create friendships, but also to explore a hybrid intersection of arts – an experiment / i am inspired by ideas of transmutation, as well as creating a highly transformative experience for all artists involved in the project / by bringing our practices together, we are welcoming the potential to transform our own practices and  see where it will lead in the future

what's new

august 25, 2024

my butterfly sculpture Wisdomkeeper has been installed on campus of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum of the Chicago Academy of Science / the opening of Flight of Butterflies exhibition coincided with the Museum new brand identity / a logo and website design has been revealed today

dummies vs mannequins

dummies vs mannequins is an artists' coalition that shares dreams and doings


the word coalition means "the growing together of parts," from late latin coalitus "fellowship," originally past participle of Latin coalescere "unite, grow together, become one in growth" / we are  artists and art minded people / we gether for performance, conversation, contemplation, and experiment with the goal to expand our connectedness and friendship, support each other and create possibilities and change

our strategies

we are drawn to the environments of cross-pollination / we work in many genres and we collaborate / we know that hybrid spaces nurture under-explored parts of creativity and bear the sweetest fruits / we embrace change and feel affinity with the earth and its beings / we learn from them because together we produce knowledge through the material found in the studio and beyond / change is impossible without personal transformation – we use bodily skills, such as  pupation and metamorphosis to transform into something more than ourselves

to make art, talk and learn among like-minded fellows builds an ecosystem that supports the bringing-forward of humanness, friendship, deep intentionality, transformation, and new reality / we excited to see what we can learn and make of this togetherness and what reality, no matter improbable, can spring to life


we gather like bees in thinking and tongue

building a new reality

we recognize that artists, and some of us are migrants, are people with tottering support systems who are left to rely on radical rethinking and (re)building of reality and the world, creating possibilities and spinning up communities around them / our allegiance is to these goals / it enables us to make the art we make

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