Erika Pochybova, a self-taught artist, is well-known for her unique style. Pochybova has created a body of work that stands out for its symbolic resonance, its metaphoric punch, and its divergence from computer-aided design. In 2014, Pochybova expanded her creative expression by adding work in spontaneous, gestural abstraction. Pochybova’s artwork has been featured in national and international publications. She has received many awards, including the Silver and Merit Award in a New York City based national competition, a second place award in the Texas National competition, the second place award in a Houston-based national competition Texas Art. Erika was 3 times selected as a finalist for the Hunting Art Prize, as well as for multiple national exhibitions, including the national juried exhibition curated by Sarah Tanguy, an independent curator, arts writer & critic, and a curator for the Art in Embassies Program in Washington, DC. In January 2018, Erika’s work has been selected for five national and international juried exhibitions. In 2018, Pochybova was invited to exhibit with the Art in Embassies, organized by the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C.. Her newest projects include art commissions by Texas Tech University. In 2017, Pochybova was featured by the National Arts Program Foundation. You can learn more about the artist by visiting www.ebova.com.
University Medical Center to receive 3-D art of Erika Pochybova-Johnson
By Britanny Hoover
Posted Feb 19, 2012 at 9:01 PM
Local artist Erika Pochybova-Johnson loves the element of surprise in her work.
She improvises as she paints, creating a single image by combining thousands of dots, a process even she has trouble putting into words.
Although she describes herself as “not a patient person,” the technique is meditative for the Lubbock artist, who originally is from Czechoslovakia.
“I get completely lost in the process,” she said. “I like the fact that I do not really know what the final image is going to look like. I have a basic idea, like a tree or an abstract flower. I know what the main subject is going to be. I do not think about colors. It’s something that comes from - I don’t know where it comes from. I just sit down and start working on it. I can spend hours and hours painting.
“I look at it when it’s about 80 percent. Then, the moment of surprise is when I see how the colors (complement) each other and how they come together. It’s an exciting moment. I think that’s what keeps me going, what I like about the process.”
Pochybova-Johnson has been working on two pieces to be donated to University Medical Center’s new East Tower facility. The East Tower is slated to open in late March or early April.
The two pieces are the largest she’s ever painted, she said. One is 4 feet by 4 feet, which usually takes about three weeks to complete. However, she worked 15 hours per day to finish it in one week.
“It’s one of the most complex and difficult paintings I’ve painted,” Pochybova-Johnson said. “Everything I wanted to put together into one piece - I wanted to make it visible, but not obvious. I want the viewers to discover the elements in it.”
The piece was inspired by its donor, Karen Savage, a Lubbock resident and UMC Foundation board member.
Savage, 65, said she and her family always have had a love for the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center and UMC.
Her mother, Betty Clawson Wright, was on the original foundation board for the HSC before UMC was built, Savage said.
When Wright became ill with kidney failure in January 2007, Savage spent 11 weeks with her in the hospital throughout a 15-month period.
“I really became a really big, big supporter for UMC, as far as being an advocate for UMC, during that time,” Savage said. “I truly learned firsthand from being there the entire time she was, it truly is a place of passion there with them. The treatment was wonderful. The service was great. If you turned on your light, you got a response. It was just as good as an experience as a bad experience can be.”
After her mother died, Savage said, she wanted to do something for UMC. She began serving on the foundation board to carry on the tradition, and decided a piece of art would be an appropriate donation to the hospital.
Savage said she’s involved in the music and arts community in Lubbock; she serves on the Lubbock Arts Alliance, the board of trustees for the Tech Museum and the foundation board for the Tech School of Music. She’s also an art collector and enjoys supporting local artists.
She first saw Pochybova-Johnson’s work at a First Friday Art Trail in the Charles Adams Gallery.
“I love the color of it. She uses vibrant colors, and I’m real drawn to strong color. I like that and I like, there’s very intricate detail in her work,” Savage said.
Pochybova-Johnson’s meeting with Savage when the two visited the UMC facility was the basis for the piece. It was then Savage told the artist about her experiences with the hospital. Savage spoke kind words of the good care and nice staff at UMC, but she said something had been missing.
“She missed that element of artwork in that space. She wanted to see art on walls, and she didn’t see any,” the artist said. “She wanted to donate a piece that was not only energetic, positive and colorful, and something that inspired workers and employees in that place, but provide a good feeling and escape to patients and their families.”
The artist realized she wanted to create something with colors that would describe the process of healing, hope and passion for life.
The painting is a tree in which the branches are depicted by human hands. Each hand represents someone a patient meets when seeking help at a health care facility. The hands represent teamwork behind the care, she said.
The art features another surprise, Pochybova-Johnson said, this one for UMC and the donors. She calls it a special bonus.
Her work is 3-D when seen through 3D glasses.
“It is truly a completely different visual experience, and I do not know right now anyone who does anything like this in fine arts,” she said.
Sandy Ogletree, executive director of the UMC Foundation, said Pochybova-Johnson’s artwork will do more than enhance the new building’s looks.
“Our hospital has people who are here for long periods of time,” Ogletree said. “I think overall, when you can enhance the environment, whether that be through scientific advances in the environment - for instance we have a brand new neonatal being built (in the East Tower), and all kinds of advances in types of materials are used in that facility to enhance it - by adding public art to that, it makes it a more pleasant environment for families and patients for recovering.”
The tree painting will be hung at the end of a hallway as a focal point in the East Tower, Ogletree said. The other painting by Pochybova-Johnson is being purchased by an anonymous donor and will hang in the facility’s lobby.
Pochybova-Johnson said this 6-by-12.5 piece is a nature painting with abstract elements, and she hopes to finish it within five weeks. This piece is called “Sanus Vita,” or “Healthy Life” and is dedicated in honor of Pauline and Don McInturff by their family.
It’s an honor to create the art for UMC, the artist said.
Pochybova-Johnson said she became an artist because of her desire to share her vision and make an environment more appealing and diverse.
“They’re supporting the arts in the local community, but there’s another special element, a human touch (art adds) to any type of environment, especially to a health care facility,” she said. “I think the whole notion of what health care means is changing. You can have medicine and quality of care, and those are an integral part of healing, but adding a special human element to healing is just wonderful.”
Interview with Erika Pochybova
Originally from Slovakia, self-taught artist Erika Pochybova-Johnson creates brilliant, spell-binding, intricate paintings inspired by nature, the sea and its creatures. Now based in Lubbock, Texas, the artist shared with X-RAY MAG her artistic vision and connection to the underwater world.
X-RAY MAG: Tell us about your background, your roots and how you became an artist.
EPJ: I grew up in Bojnice, which is an old city [in Slovakia] known for its tourist attractions, such as one of the most visited castles in Europe (first mentioned in 1113), the oldest zoo in Slovakia and one of the oldest spa resorts in Slovakia.
The house in which I grew up is located right by the Bojnice Castle (a five-minute walk from our house) and touring the castle and its exhibits (including numerous traveling art shows of European art) was one of the most pleasant and interesting activities I did throughout my youth.
In addition, both of my parents are big appreciators of European art (in any form) and we took many trips throughout the country to visit many historical areas that contain amazing collections of art. In addition, the town lies in the Nitra River valley and is surrounded by beautiful mountains.
Often, we would take hiking trips, mushroom-hunting trips, or just simply trips into woods and explore the wonders of the surrounding nature. I believe these experiences have not only established my strong appreciation for art, beauty and nature but also have influenced my work and my vision of the world considerably.
X-RAY MAG: What is your artistic mission or vision?
EPJ: The arts, in general, are a means of sharing the human experience. The visual arts, in particular, imbue an object, such as a painting or sculpture, with a wordless language of thought, emotion and visual experience.
The object is static, but it can bridge the gaps of space and time. The artist’s vision can trigger a feeling of recognition in the viewer or present a new way of looking at a familiar thing. It is like a conversation without words between two people who have never met.
This simple yet magical quality is what has drawn me to making art. For me, making art is about adding some beauty to the world. Whether it is beauty in truth, beauty in nature or beauty in and of itself, art objects have contributed to the quality of human life for centuries.
X-RAY MAG: What about the sea and its creatures inspires you?
EPJ: As a visual artist, the colors, shapes and lines of sea animals and plants are especially interesting because they are so different from what we normally see as surface creatures. I love the variety in their colors, the refracted light of the underwater world, and how their forms move with expressive gestures in seemingly zero gravity.
To me, it all combines to create a magical new dimension of life on Earth that is not appreciated often enough. The sea and its creatures inspire me with awe.
X-RAY MAG: Tell us about your experience in the underwater world, scuba diving or snorkeling. How and why did you start diving?
EPJ: I have always loved water. I almost drowned when I was a toddler, and after that, I spent countless hours in the water, learning to swim and swimming. When I was 15, I signed up for a scuba diving course. This brought a completely new dimension to my already developed love for water and swimming.
X-RAY MAG: What are your favorite dive sites, underwater subjects, locations?
EJP: I don’t really get to dive much anymore since I live in a very dry part of the world. But my favorite place that I have been recently was on the northwest coast of Costa Rica. In the water, I just love to see anything with color.
X-RAY MAG: Tell us about your paintings... How are they made?
EPJ: I think that the fact that I am a self-taught artist contributes considerably to my unique vision and the consequent uniqueness of my work. Because I am not academically trained in painting, I do not think of predefined rules, and I do not find any need to follow them—I do not even want to know what those rules are.
I invented my unique painting style intuitively. My images are created with thousands of dots that I carefully place, one by one by, on the surface of my paintings. I like to improvise when I work; I choose colors in my work intuitively, and often, I do not know what the final image is going to look like. I love moments of surprise in my work.
I do not look at my pieces from a distance to evaluate them until they are more than 80 percent done, and that, for me, makes the entire process even more fun and interesting. I like to express what I see in a way that seems very natural to me, and perhaps this contributes to the uniqueness of my style and imagery.
X-RAY MAG: Do you use underwater photography—your own or other sources?
EPJ: I do not paint from photographs, per se. I look at many images and create my own composition from various source materials and my imagination. I do not want to copy an image that I have already taken or seen, but rather create something that has never been seen.
My paintings represent an imaginary world that is influenced by real life experiences, encounters, and are recollections of my memories or visions. And painting is a wonderful medium for enticing people into looking at something in a new way.
X-RAY MAG: How does your art relate to conservation or environmental issues facing our oceans and reefs?
EPJ: One powerful element, to which people respond, is beauty. There is nothing quite like beauty, and people pay attention when they see something beautiful. My goal is to bring awareness about the beauty that is present in nature and the plants and animals of the underwater world—and how fragile it is.
One example: It has been almost 37 months since the Tohoku earthquake triggered a tsunami that devastated eastern Japan and severely damaged the nuclear reactors in Fukushima. This tragic event, that resulted in a continuous leak of harmful radioactivity, was the inspiration for my painting, Aftermath. At first glance, one feels the positive energy, a glorious underwater world, teeming with seemingly playful life. But upon further observation, one may wonder about a strangely out of place Japanese motorcycle.
The sea creatures appear disturbed and anxious about this unnatural intrusion. Barely visible, like radioactivity, in the chaos are arrangements of particles that form floating radioactive symbols and the logo of Tepco. (Tepco is the electric power company that was responsible for maintaining the nuclear reactors.)
When one takes the time to really see and contemplate the painting, it reveals a more complex world where all is not well. Aftermath is, at once, a tribute to some of the miraculous life our planet has produced and a warning about the fragility of that life—an apology to Nature.
X-RAY MAG: Why art? Why is art important? What are the challenges and benefits of being an artist today?
EPJ: I enjoy making art because it makes me feel like I am contributing something positive to the world. Looking at other people’s art, past and present, has enriched my life, and I want to contribute a little something to the giant fabric of human culture.
There are some challenges with being an artist but the rewards, both personal and professional, far outweigh them. And to me, true artistic success is having the peace, time and resources that allow one to make art for most of the time one spends on Earth.
X-RAY MAG: What’s next? New? Upcoming?
EPJ: My goal is to continue striving to bring more beauty to the world with my paintings… and perhaps raise the awareness about the fragility of nature. I want to pay tribute to nature’s purity and hope that our civilization will learn to live in harmony with that.
I also would like to learn to see the world through the eyes of animals, whose spirits are pure, and discover some universal truths that would help us humans get along in the world. I continue to have some hope.
Location and Hours of Operation
Artists at Pickens Museum
- J. Chester Armstrong
- Bryant Baker
- Jolene Bird
- Robin Bray
- Barbara Chase Riboud
- Sergey Chernomorets
- Charles Cordier
- Jo Davidson
- Andrew Scott DeJesse
- Donald De Lue
- Roger Disney
- Yatika Starr Fields
- Espi Frazier
- John Dale Free
- John Free, Jr.
- Mitch Gyson
- Jeff Ham
- Robert Hardee
- Hugh Harrell Jr.
- K. Henderson
- Bri Hermanson
- Malvina Hoffman
- Allan Houser
- Patrick Dean Hubbell
- Malvin Gray Johnson
- William Kilpatrick
- Tom Lea
- Becky Mannschreck
- Raoul Middleman
- Woodrow Nash
- Ed Natiya
- Clyde Otipoby
- Gene Pearson
- Daniel Pickens
- Erika Pochybova
- Charles Pratt
- Bill Rabbit
- Traci Rabbit
- Tanya Rafael
- Richard Recchia
- Faith Ringgold
- Josué Sánchez
- Fritz Scholder
- Stephen Schwark
- Isaac Shari
- Scott Storm
- C J Wells
Articles about Pickens Museum
- Pickens Museum/NOC Mural Dedication Set for June 16th
- Yatika Starr Fields Completes Mural for Pickens Museum May 12, 2021
- Pickens Museum and NOC Announce Mural by Osage Artist Yatika Starr Fields May 5, 2021
- Osage Warrior in the Enemy Camp (Counting Coup) by John Free March 29, 2021
- Pickens Museum Displays Route 66 Murals by Robert Hardee March 29, 2021
- Pickens Museum Opens Exhibit of Sculpture by Donald De Lue at NOC March 24, 2021
- Pickens Museum partners with NOC February 23, 2021
- Three Faces of the Pioneer Woman February 21, 2020
- Letter from a Birmingham Jail by Faith Ringgold February 21, 2020
- Exhibition: "Winter in New York" January 22, 2020
- The Turquoise Guitar by Jolene Bird November 26, 2018
- World's Largest Naja August 29, 2018
- A 1949 Hudson Limousine August 29, 2018
- Meet the Museum Design Team May 21, 2018
- A Ponca City Mystery April 5, 2018
- Tonya Rafael Visits Ponca City February 2018
2015 and before
- Sculptor Bryant Baker's Lost Masterpiece November 3, 2015
- Pioneer Woman Models Come Home February 26, 2010
- Pioneer Woman Models Should Return to Ponca City July 13, 2007