Home Sweet (Art) Home

Home Sweet (Art) Home

Cheshire’s Alice Selipanov has spent the majority of her time in isolation this past year and a half, making small cardboard houses as a way to not only cope with the loneliness, but also to reflect on her life at a time when the world seems to be shifting.

Now, her cardboard houses have led her to build her own full-sized “art house,” one that reflects her time spent in quarantine and serves as an artistic representation of the passage of time.

An artist in her free time and a full-time student at SUNY (State University of New York) Purchase in the School of Anthropology, Selipanov suddenly found herself with an immense amount of free time once the pandemic hit. With a final presentation looming for her final thesis, Selipanov received guidance from one of her professors to just keep creating until she struck gold. 

“My professor just kept telling me to keep doing what I was doing, and that’s what I did for a few months. I was literally just making cardboard houses like crazy, wondering where it was going to take me,” she explained. “And then one day I had the idea to just build a full-sized house. But I never seriously thought I was going to do it.”

The home, located in her parents’ backyard on Wallingford Road, is roughly four to five large rooms, divided into smaller, much more intimate hallways. The rooms are made of wood planks and palettes that Selipanov and her step-father purchased from local stores. The front door of the house is actually Selipanov’s childhood bedroom door, which she decided to recycle for her project.

“I’ve always been connected to that door, and when my step-dad grabbed it and put it up, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect use for that door,” she said. “It just tied me even more to the home and how this house is a representation of my life and how I’ve moved through the world.”

The house, for Selipanov, represents many things. It pays homage to the many homes she has lived in over the years, it represents the passage of time, and it serves as an anthropological representation of the manifestations Selipanov observed during the pandemic.

“My family has moved a lot,” she said. “We’ve lived in Russia, (then) all over Connecticut before we settled on the home my family lives in now. As a student I lived in many different apartments and homes, all leaving their mark on me.”

Inside the house Selipanov has a timeline drawn on the walls of the various homes she lived in, all culminating inside one universal home. 

“Through this pandemic, our idea of what home is has changed drastically,” she said. “Home went from this place where people gather (and) share community to a very singular, personal experience. People work from home now. Home serves so many different functions where before it could’ve just been a place where someone ate and slept.”

Selipanov wanted to focus on the hallways and windows of the home as the centerpiece, essentially creating a small structure that exists entirely of hallways, or portals, that lead into different spaces.

“The hallway and windows have always been the parts of a house that interest me the most,” she said. “The French and Danish have always been interested in how windows reflect back onto themselves. They considered a window to be extremely feminine, something which I lean into in building my own house.”

Each window in the house has a mirror directly across from it, showing how windows can bring the outdoors inside — another theme Selipanov noticed during quarantine.

“People have begun to create outside things in their homes,” she said, “like bringing plants indoors or creating a home gym instead of going out to the gym.”

The sheer act of building a house in her parents’ backyard was something that scared and excited Selipanov, who had never embarked on an art project this large before. 

“It was actually really fun to build. I got to sort of just do my thing and focus on one piece at a time until one day I had this house in front of me,” she laughed. “Then I was like, ‘Wow, I actually did this,’ and sort of amazed myself at what I could actually do.”

While Selipanov had to take the home down once the cold weather hit, she hopes to resurrect it in the spring. 

“Unfortunately, the house wasn’t made to withstand the cold,” she said. “But I hope to have it up again in the spring, and maybe have even more to show then. This is something that I am going to keep working on and evolving, so this is just the beginning.”

To see a full walkthrough of the home, visit Selipanov’s YouTube page at www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EaODfKdY1c.


The Herald Buzz

Follow the Cheshire Herald on Facebook & Twitter