Emma Fick Art

Alkonosts & Guardians




Alkonost is the name for the half-bird, half-woman creatures that appear in Russia's vibrant and ancient folklore tradition. The alkonosts allow me to explore both composite creatures (birds and humans) and composite cultures (Russian and Louisianan) and to create a new mythology, a new kind of deityone that protects various elements of the Louisiana landscape.

With the Louisiana Mythology series, I strive to create a visual language specific in which each element can be read and parsed out almost like a book. Louisiana is already rich in its cultural icons, natural landscapes, and fables, and in much of my work I play with these extant cultural components, layering them atop other traditions and visual languages to create a new mythology specific to the state. 

 Protection and guardianship-- specifically female guardianship-- appear frequently in my paintings. Much like a talisman you wear around your neck, I like the idea that a painting can be a protective object for your wall, can act as guardian of your space. The alkonosts have dominion over their static ecosystem in the particular world of the painting-- whether the oak tree or magnolia, the caladiums or irises, the fish or crawfish-- but as an object on your wall, they also serve as guardians over your room, your space, whatever dynamic ecosystem they come to occupy. 

Though the Louisiana Mythologies themselves are figments of my imagination, the visual references (almost always from nature) are quite literal and real, and consistently specific to Louisiana. Similarly, the cultural references are rooted in history and fact: the alkonosts, for instance, appear in ancient Russian folklore in both word and image and can be studied and enjoyed apart from my work.