Katya Gushchina is an artist and cartographer who works with travel books, comics, graphic novels, and illustrates expeditions. Katya was born in Nizhny Novgorod, and in 2017 she graduated from the Higher School of Economics with a degree in graphic design. Her first book «Crazy Year» dedicated to a trip to Iran was published the same year, a year later she published a travel book «Moscow – Vladivostok» about a trip along the Trans-Siberian Railway. In 2022 there was published the third book, an illustrated biography «100 reasons why Leo Tolstoy cries». «Gorky Who Wanted to Fly», the next book in the series, is being prepared for publication.

In 2021, Katya Gushchina defended her master's thesis at the Higher School of Economics – a graphic novel about Andrei Sakharov made in drypoint technique. This work is presented at the exhibition.

Artist statement at work:
«So, I decided to create a book about Academician Sakharov. And I succeeded, but not immediately.

It is impossible to do a good thing without love. And in order to love Sakharov, you need to understand him. It turned out that I am closer to him than I thought, and we have a lot in common. First, Sakharov wrote that the university played a decisive role in his life. It was the same with me. Secondly, both Andrei Sakharov and I lived in the same city for some time, but it was called differently: Gorky and Nizhny Novgorod. And thirdly, we were both changed by great love.

I am grateful that now it is becoming more and more informative what dissidents had to deal with in the Soviet era. We can fully see and understand what terror and horror they faced. But we still do not know the answer to the question: how did all these people manage to cope with this? In my work, I offer one of the answers. It is not the only one, it is not a magic wand, but it is simple, and sometimes it even works. The weapon to fight the darkness is laughter. Laughing at darkness. We see it in Chukovsky's «Cockroach» and Soviet jokes. Laughter is needed to believe that «the king is naked!», to support a friend, to clear the air.

The technique in which these works are made is a dry needle and a ballpoint pen. Dry needle was responsible for the Soviet component which was volume, black and white, and unshakable. A drawing was scratched on plastic with a needle, it was covered with paint, and then pressed with a machine tool and printed on paper. Thus, a black-and-white print was obtained, «depicting» a little noise from the editorials of «Pravda» magazine and dynamics of «Krokodil» journal. And Sakharov himself and his entourage emerged from these gray blocks, erasing from the era's limits. A dry needle couldn’t capture the grandeur. Therefore, he and all his surroundings, texts and conversations are always drawn on top - with a ballpoint pen.

It was not always that smooth. In the period of doubts in the Sakharov collection, I found an amazing letter that was addressed to «Andrey Sakharov, to the Ministry of Rights for the Human Beings Protection… ». The sender's surname was «Gushchin». I had no more doubts».

Link to the exhibition and photos of the area with works:
Link to the author's tour: