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Art Blocks
Smiles through roses and hearts
Photo: Morris Malakoff
Recently installed at the Main Street Marquee, Nataliya Scheib's large-scale art piece in Downtown Houston offers a touch of Ukranian culture. Vibrantly titled “Roses and Hearts on the Blue Sky, the bold installation adds to the Art Blocks initiative that's suffusing Main Street Square with quirky fun and beauty as means for public engagement. Scheib's design will be on view through September on the facade of 901 Main St.
What is the meaning behind the magnificent piece? We chatted with the creative to learn more about her background and the symbolism in her work.
Q: How did you end up in Houston?
A: I’m from Ukraine originally. I used to live in Washington D.C. for 10  years, and then my husband transferred his work here. We moved to Houston, and then I started my full-time art career.
Q: Had you been to Houston before deciding to relocate here?
A: I had never been to Houston before. I did not know what to expect. I was thinking maybe a lot of cowboys here — people in cowboy hats, cowboy boots. It was a very interesting move. Now that I've settled here, I love the city.
Q: What's your background in visual art?
A: I graduated from the Ukraine School of Visual Arts when I was 15. The 4-year program was very strict and structured. You can't pick your subjects — you have to complete the demanding curriculum as it's outlined by the faculty.
After art school, I studied architecture. After completing my degree in architecture, I enrolled in a masters in city and urban planning program, which is part of a civil engineering degree. I also have a minor in urban landscape design.
Q:  Can you tell us about the symbolism in “Roses and Hearts”?
A: I returned to Ukraine just after a series of protests and the uprising, which began in April 2014. It was summer. In the center of Kiev, I saw a memorial to the 100 people who died in the uprising. They called them the “Heavenly 100.” The memorial was a collection of photographs with stories about each person's involvement and how they died. Next to each of the photographs was a bouquet of fresh flowers in vases with water. 
The blue color represents the Ukrainian flag. The heart stands for the people who died fighting for freedom. And the flowers represent the everlasting memories of them.
But even if people don't know the meaning of my work, that's totally OK with me. I wanted to bring attention to the beauty of Ukrainian culture through vibrant colors and design. I hope that people smile when they see my installation.
Q: Why is public art so important?
A: Public art is important because not a lot of people always have access to art. They cannot visit museums and galleries. Sometimes it's because of means, other times because of time. Basically, public art brings creativity to more people as they go about their daily lives. Sigmund Freud said that your surroundings affect your quality of life.

With my work, I want to improve the quality of life for Houstonians.
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