I feel compelled to depict myself through self-portraits as a means to reify my relationship with the world, which allows me to reflect both currently and retrospectively on broader themes of longing, nostalgia, womanhood, and desire. This particular series revolves around fire and is a continuation of my visual exploration of Weltschmerz (World-pain)—a German term that describes a feeling of melancholia associated with the weariness of the world and its apparent distance from the idyll. I am thinking about the metaphorical power that light and fire hold in times of immense world distress, and our communal need to embrace warmth, compassion, and connectedness in response to the current political, social, and ecological crises.

Painting by Masha Morgunova


Masha Morgunova is a multimedia artist based in New York City. After graduating from Earlham College with honors in Painting, Masha continues to make figurative work in a variety of media, including ceramic sculpture, oil painting, and silicone casting. Her works are held in private collections in the US, Italy, Russia, France, and Belgium. She is currently working as an Art Director at Grey State, a non-profit arts organization supporting emerging international artists.

Painting by Masha Morgunova

When was the first time you felt like you were an artist?

I don’t know what it’s like to “feel like an artist,” but I also don’t remember not knowing what it feels like to not be one.

What is the most satisfying part of your practice?

I love witnessing how a work resolves itself. It often starts insecure and gets lost in the process. Over time, the piece matures, and so I mature with it as I gain confidence in and with my work. Usually, this process of becoming whole is most evident in the final touches; to me, these are the most satisfying.

If you could show your work anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Due to a bouquet of circumstances, my dear family members have never been to an exhibition with my works in it. This hypothetical show could be in any corner of the world, as long as they would be able to see it in person.

Masha Morgunova