The Artistic Life of Aka Pereyma


By Matt Clevenger

[email protected]

TROY — The work and life of Troy artist Aka Pereyma will be the subject of two exhibitions opening this week at the Dayton Art Institute (DAI) and the Troy-Hayner Cultural Center.

Pereyma, who passed away in 2013, will be showcased by the DAI during the kick-off to its 2024 special exhibition season with “The Artistic Life of Aka Pereyma,” on view from Saturday, Feb. 17, to Tuesday, May 12. The show features over 160 individual artworks, in a wide variety of mediums including painting, ceramics and welding.

“It’s an enormous show,” Pereyma’s daughter, Christina Pereyma O’Neal, said. “Aka worked in every medium.”

“There are over 160 pieces, but they vary in size from something that you can hold in your hand to something that you need a truck to move,” she said.

A resident of Troy for much of her life, Pereyma was known internationally for her paintings, including traditional Ukrainian eggs called pysanky, wood-block prints, needlework, ceramics and metal sculptures.

“Welding was extremely important,” O’Neal said. “In the 1960s and 70s, she was arc-welding found-object sculptures. She really devoted herself to making birds from found metal objects, primarily farm implements.”

The DAI exhibit also includes a flock of Pereyma’s metal birds, O’Neal said.

“It’s charming, it’s cheerful, it’s funny; some of the birds just make you smile,” she said. “My personal favorite is the Kiwi; he’s very small, but he’s just perfection.”

More information can be found online at

The Troy-Hayner Cultural Center is also currently featuring Pereyma, with a display in the first-floor exhibit case also entitled “The Artistic Life of Aka Pereyma.”

The display, which runs until the first week of May, features a collection of several ceramic artworks, along with information on Pereyma and her works.

“All we have here is really just a tiny glimpse,” Troy-Hayner Cultural Center Exhibit Coordinator Leona Sargent said. “It’s not a full-size show.”

“I would encourage people, if they come to see this, that they really go down to the DAI to get a full picture,” she said.

Born in 1927 in Siedlce, Poland, Pereyma attended school in Germany before emigrating to the United States and settling in Brooklyn, New York. Pereyma and her husband moved to Troy in 1959; she earned a degree in sculpture from the DAI School in 1966, and also attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

From 1970 to 1980, she served as the artist coordinator for the Welding for Artist Program at the Hobart School for Welding Technology. Pereyma received her first welder as a gift from an engineer who worked at the welding school, O’Neal said.

“He gave her an arc welder, and she started welding,” O’Neal said. “She loved it.”

Pereyma created the metal sculpture “Jacob’s Ladder,” which is on display at First Presbyterian Church, and the sculpture “Eclipse,” which can be seen at Hobart Urban Nature Preserve. Pereyma also created the mural “Sunrise, Sunset” on the east wall of the Mayflower Building in downtown Troy.

“There used to be a building on that quadrant, it was an Uhlmans,” O’Neal said. “That building burned down, and it exposed this enormous wall.”

The Mayflower Building was Pereyma’s first mural, O’Neal said, although at the time she had done several large paintings.

“Not as big as that, but she had done large wall paintings before,” she said. “Nothing was ever a problem for Aka; she could do it.”

“No problem, she would say in her wonderful accent,” O’Neal said. “No problem.”

No posts to display