By Melanie Yingst
TROY — The shell of an egg is one of life’s most delicate surfaces, but it was Aka Pereyma’s medium of choice and just one of the multiple mediums she excelled at throughout her career as an artist.
Armenia (Aka) Bohumyla Pereyma, a world renowned artist and master of the Ukrainian art form called pyansky, called the city of Troy her second home.
“I really feel like Troy has become my second hometown,” Pereyma said in a 2003 interview. “Many of them have become my folks.”
And “her folks” in the art world, and in the city of Troy, lost one of its most colorful and talented citizens Monday.
Peremya passed away Monday at the age of 85. Pereyma, along with her husband Constantine who passed in 2012, were Troy residents since 1959. She became a U.S. citizen in 1983.
Pereyma was considered a master of the art of pyansky, the traditional Ukrainian art form of decorating Easter eggs, which was handed down through the generations by her grandmother.
In 2003, Pereyma received an Ohio Heritage Fellowship at CITYFOLK, a traditional and ethnic arts presenting organization in Dayton for her pyansky and painted ceramics.
Pereyma’s linage inspired her multifaceted art media especially birds and eggs, which are common themes found in Ukrainian folk lore and art.
Friend and fellow artist Carole Kerber reflected on Aka’s artistic talent, critiques and wisdom.
“She just gave so much to this community,” Kerber said Wednesday. “She was a mentor to so many artists.”
Kerber said Aka Peremya was a “true artist” who was compelled to create art each and every day.
“She needed to make art every day just like we need air to breathe,” Kerber said. “This is a big loss in the art world and for humanity. She was a great artist and a great human being.”
Aka Bohumyla Klym-Pereyma was named to the Troy Hall of Fame in 1997 for her art, including pieces in Troy viewable to the public — the painting, “Rising Sun, Setting Sun” and a welded sculpture, “Jacob’s Ladder.”
As a fellow artist, Kerber said Peremya was the best critic.
“She was always giving good criticism ,” Kerber said. “She called it like she saw it — in a nice way.”
Throughout the years, Pereyma displayed her Ukrainian Easter eggs — a skill she was taught at the age of 6 by her mother — at the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center, throughout the United States and in her native Ukraine.
Troy-Hayner Cultural Center Director Linda Lee Jolly said the news of Peremya’s death was a great loss to the Hayner community of artists.
“We were so fortunate to have her in our community,” Jolly said Wednesday. “Not only did she share her tremendous artistic talent with us, but also her exuberance for life.”
The Troy-Hayner Cultural Center acquired one of Pereyma’s sculptures, “The Eagle,” and the work is on display in the courtyard of the center.
Also notable, Jolly said, is that Pereyma sponsored an exhibition of Ukrainian folk art, including embroidery and bead work, in celebration of the center’s 25th anniversary year. She also sponsored an exhibition in calligraphic arts in memory of close friends Dr. A. Robert and Shirley Culp Davies, who died in a small plane crash in 2001.
“Our community is truly enriched to have had that caliber of an artist among us — she will be missed,” Jolly said. “She often talked about the birds and the eggs in her work and how they were symbols of life. She always lived life to the fullest.”
Pereyma was born in Siedlce, Poland, in 1927, the daughter of Ukrainian teachers. Her family returned to Ukraine in 1940, where Pereyma remained until emigrating to the U.S. in the late 1950s with her husband Constantine.
She studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Dayton Art Institute and the Hobart School of Welding Technology, where she subsequently became its program director.
She also has been acclaimed in numerous print articles, two books and a documentary film.