Bochenska has been traveling the American West where most of the exhibition’s work was made in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Bochenska, always having felt an affinity for indigenous cultures and their inherent respect for Nature and connection to the Cosmos, has been able to solidify this identification during these travels. The title of the show comes from a book of fables and legends, “Navaho Indian Myths” (1956) by Aileen O’Bryan. In the 1920s, the elderly Navaho chief, Sandoval, Hastin Tlo'tsi hee (or Old Man Buffalo Grass) asked O'Bryan to record and preserve these tales. A Hole Was Placed in the Sky and Sealed with Water describes the creation of the Sky. Bochenska found the book while visiting Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.
Her visits to petroglyph sites in Utah and Arizona were of special significance. The prehistoric form of rock art, removing or carving into existing rock structures, mirrors some of Bochenska’s own technique. She waits for the oil paint to reach a consistency that allows her to carve into and mold the paint on the surface of the canvas, playing with its sculptural possibilities. Of her own work, Bochenska says, “When I paint I am like an archeologist, unearthing that which is hidden and buried. My paintings are like gardens, plots of land. I watch them grow with my hands. Like clouds, they coagulate themselves into existence. And sometimes they rain and storm, and solidify like lava.” This sort of poetic discourse is important to Bochenska; she describes her need to create as coming from her primal essence and calls upon the viewer to experience rather than decipher her paintings. For Bochenska, the experience of painting is similar to a kōan used by Zen Buddhists, a question or narrative that provokes the “great doubt,” and in turn, aids in unraveling grander truths about the world or one’s self.
The manner in which the work is installed resembles cloud formations. Mystical, abstract compositions in vibrant earthy colors mirror her journey’s landscapes; blue of bright sky and rust brown of canyon. They are named after places she’s visited and Indigenous gods and mythological characters, like “Peekaboo Loop,” a trail in Bryce Canyon, Utah or “Hand Trembler,” a Navajo medicine man or woman.