July 16, 2024


The Intersection of Information and Insight

In Meticulous Paper Portraits, Yulia Brodskaya Coaxes Visions of a Compassionate Future — Colossal

2 min read


#yulia brodskaya

November 7, 2023

Kate Mothes

“Northern Lines.” All images © Yulia Brodskaya, shared with permission

For millennia, cultures across the globe have venerated mother goddesses who embody maternal roles and symbolize fertility and cosmological creation. For the Inuit, Nerrivik is known as the sea mother and provider, and another deity associated with the sky, Pinga, watches over the hunt. In the Odinani tradition of the Igbo people in southeast Nigeria, Ala presides over the underworld and observes morality, fertility, and creativity. And in Greek mythology, Gaia is poetically portrayed as the personification of the Earth and the ancestor of all living beings.

For artist Yulia Brodskaya, the unequivocal power of Mother Earth encompasses a vibrant series of quilled paper portraits (previously) that celebrate cultural diversity and women around the world. She says:

I create from the place of honoring history and the past—drawing lots of inspiration from various cultures existing on the planet, but at the same time, making a conscious choice to bring forward a new vision of the future: a future when we, as a collective, have healed our past, released the pain, and integrated all the lessons that brought us all here to this moment in time: unified humanity—people of Gaia.

In her new pieces, Brodskaya continues to explore resilience and hope through dreamlike portraiture. She meticulously cuts, creases, and curls thin pieces of paper to build up a relief one strip at a time, adding mystical elements like swirls and geometric shapes. In “Envisage,” a human profile merges with that of a horse, while in “Mother Energy,” leaping dolphins reflect the strength, connection, and joy of motherhood.

Brodskaya portrays a future she desires, one of brightness, openness, and compassion. She says that “this is a personal exploration of how this new reality would feel like. How would it feel to interact with a human being from this version of the future?”

Find more on the artist’s website, and follow on Instagram and TikTok, where she often shares insights into her process.Yulia


A quilled paper portrait of a Black woman holding her baby in a spiraling composition with a background of dolphins.

“Mother Energy,” inspired by the work of Julia Watkins and Franck Layover

Detail of quilled paper.

Detail of “Mother Energy”

A profile portrait of an Africa figure wearing beaded accessories, standing in front of a horse.


Detail of quilled paper.

Detail of “Envisage”

A quilled paper portrait of an Indigenous American woman with geometric symbols and feathers.

“Light as a Feather”

Detail of quilled paper layers.

Detail of “Light as a Feather”

Detail of a portrait focused on the eyes, showing quilled paper pieces.

Detail of “Light as a Feather”

A quilled paper portrait of a woman looking straight at the viewer with mystical geometry merged with her skin and hair.


Detail of paper quilling on a portrait.

Detail of “Starseed”

#yulia brodskaya


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