All Things Assyrian
Assyrian Artist Uses Snow to Create Intricate Art
By Karie Angell Luc
Pioneer Press
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Odicho Kifarkis of Skokie in front of his snow sculpture at the artist and sculptor's Bronx Avenue residence on Feb. 4, 2021. ( Karie Angell Luc/Pioneer Press)
Thanks to plenty of snow and a sculptor's hand, a Skokie neighborhood is home to a temporary art installation.

On display in the 8900 block of Bronx Avenue last week was a snow sculpture of a mythical winged bull with a human head, an Assyrian symbol, said Odicho Kifarkis. The Skokie resident created the snow sculpture and plans to continue creating more works of art throughout the season.

"We call it in Assyrian language lamassu, it's the same thing," Kifarkis said. "It's a symbol of power, but not power that means force, power of the brain, power of peace, for wisdom, for freedom and for stability."

Lamassu sculptures are a well-known tradition in Assyrian art. A large one circa 883--859 B.C. is on display at New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

"Lamassu protected and supported important doorways in Assyrian palaces," a description if the piece reads.

For Kifarkis, "I made it just to share and spread joy," he said.

"When I put it in my mind to do something after this big snow," Kifarkis said he created it, "for the audience, for the residents, the citizens of our country to have a little bit of fun."

The Skokie artist's sculpture took approximately three hours to complete on Feb. 1.

"My motherland is Syria," Kifarkis said. "But I'm here as an American citizen."

Kifarkis takes care of his parents and spends time, "focusing on art," he said.

He graduated from a fine arts program in Syria and is a sculptor in mixed media such as metal and artificial marble. He likes to draw and his artistic vision includes, "everything," Kifarkis said.

His influences include Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, the British sculptor Henry Moore and French sculptor Auguste Rodin.

"But," he said, "I go with Syrian school in art. Syrian art is like one branch of Egyptian, Romanian, Italian and Greek Byzantine art. These are very old schools in art, they have very special lines."

He planned to next create a sculpture of a dove, and if snow is workable and available by Feb. 14, he is planning on a Valentine's Day piece.

His new sculptures will ideally promote, "the biggest power in the world, the power of love, the power of peace. I hope for peace for the whole world, peace for the humans in the world."

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