dasa bausova – ART

Words and Art and Aspen: A Portrait of Dasa Bausova, the Artist

07.04.2010 (2:25 pm) – Filed under: media coverage ::

Submitted by Jamie Lynn Miller on Mon, 03/29/2010 – 20:00

Mixed media artist Dasa Bausova escaped from the Czech Republic and spent a year in an Austrian refugee camp, before finding her way to relatives in the Promised Land – Cleveland, Ohio – at age 16.

“In Cleveland, the sun was too low, the sky was too big, the land was too flat…I walked around hunched over, thinking the sky was going to fall on me,” says Dasa, now living and practicing art in Aspen, Colorado. Her first year in the U.S., she didn’t speak; in either language. “I think I was just really disoriented,” she shares, reflecting on that quiet time of introspection. Art became her main form of communication and her truest connection to her new life in the United States.

The Artist The Artist

Her journey started with the fall of the Iron Curtain and the hope of a better life in the West. “The Czech Republic was still a Soviet-ruled country, but in the early 80’s, Yugoslavia was a sovereign nation. My mom was obsessed with escaping to be with her brothers in the U.S. We headed to Yugoslavia but they took our passports – so, we decided to enjoy a little vacation!” recalls Dasa, with a smile.

“Mom came up with the idea of making a run for it at the border but I said, ‘Mom, they shoot people for that. Not smart.’ The authorities wanted our luggage 24 hours in advance before the return trip. I remember it was a very hot day, so the tour guide told us she was gonna hand out the passports outside the bus, due to the heat,” Dasa explains. “I immediately offered to help. I saw our passports on the top of the stack and I grabbed them, then calmly passed the pile to someone else. And Mom and I slowly walked away.”

They ran behind the bus, hid behind walls and finally made their way towards the highway. Though the Yugoslavian police looked for them, it was more of a token search: “The police were sympathetic to the Czech people’s plight; they were only obligated to search, but not to necessarily find,” shares Dasa.

Mother and daughter hitchhiked to Austria and boarded the train. “We had no luggage at all; everyone knew what was going on,” she explains. “We met an Austrian woman, who took us home for the weekend, fed us and helped us get our visa.”

Next stop, a refugee camp in Vienna, where they waited for permission to enter the U.S. “My uncle had to sponsor us; at the time, the U.S. was only accepting families, or men – they wouldn’t allow single women into the country!”

A year later, they finally made it to Cleveland. Dasa spent the first year virtually silent: turning inward, painting portraits and trying to master high-school level schoolwork without knowing English. “I’d memorize what I needed to know, like the names of the arteries, or vocabulary words. I figured if I just listened to people I could learn how to imitate them. I signed up for a commercial arts program, four hours of drawing a day and on the weekends, I’d loiter around Cleveland’s amazing art museums!

Sparkles, by Dasa Bausova Sparkles, by Dasa Bausova

While art eased the transition to U.S. soil, her zest for the creative life stems from her Czech upbringing. “My single mother signed me up for every arts program imaginable,” says Dasa, with a laugh. “Ceramics, piano, dancing…she’d say, ‘Get out there and see it all and you’ll figure out what you like.’ I was really into theater but always returned to art…theater was such a group activity and art has always been just me and my materials. I like that about art.”

That first year fostered reflection and resolve; while she stayed quiet, she absorbed the world around her, surrounding herself with the words, images and sounds of her new home. She graduated from high school and went on to receive a Masters in Arts Administration. Fast-forward to Aspen, Colorado, a long way from Cleveland, Ohio, filled with brighter skies, a constantly changing horizon and much to inspire her artistic sensibilities.

Dasa served as Marketing Director at Anderson Ranch Arts Center, 13 years ago, and has since focused on freelance marketing and making her own art, enjoying cross-country skiing, puttering around on her bike and a passion for music, which inspires her musings.

“I love music,” says Dasa. “What I hear on the radio, what I read about music…I like to use song lyrics and integrate them into my work. Different music drives my work in different ways I listened to a lot of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds for this current project, combined with the occasional 80’s techno,” she divulges, with a smile.

Her work provokes random thought and mind wandering, to places always colorful, less actual and more possible. The current masterpiece is 2009’s Matter over Mind exhibit, an artistic look at the ways the brain plays tricks on us. “My grandmother had a massive stroke about five years ago and her brain seemed to separate itself from her, in spite of what was happening to her body,” explains Dasa. “It made me think that the brain is a big machine that only cares about its own health. I started observing the nonsense, the weird thoughts, hopes and desires that go through my own head.”

Achtung Baby, by Dasa Bausova Achtung Baby, by Dasa Bausova

The work sits besides an exhibit entitled, “No Excuses”, further exploring the places the brain goes, where logic doesn’t necessarily follow. “There are no more excuses,” she declares: “they are all being carefully painted, categorized and rationalized out of existence.”

Words, images, flowers, skeletons, Black Barbies representative of a more modern African-American woman, to the traditional use of a Swastika in its purest, 5,000 year-old form, symbolizing “Let Good Prevail”; the work involves separate squares made from traditional and non-traditional materials: mixed media, acrylics, interior decorating materials, markers, white-out and most importantly, input from the audience as to how they should be arranged.

“People might buy two or three squares, then put them into their own groupings, “ she explains. “It’s fun to see how others interpret them; I put it out there, but 80% is what they bring to it. That’s how I know I’ve done my job.”

And how does she know when a job is finally done? “I spend a long time staring at my work,” shares Dasa. “That’s the hard part. As long as it bugs me for some reason I know it’s not done…it’s painful; it hurts. I get obsessive. It’s like a puzzle piece missing. When it stops bothering me, that’s when I know it’s done.”

Lately, she’s been obsessed with black paint and glitter and the ongoing potential of Matter over Mind. “I’m not done with it,” she confesses. “It’s inexhaustible!”

For more on Dasa Bausova, visit dasabausova.com or http://www.flickr.com/photos/dasa_bausova/sets/