Felski, who began painting in 1960, wrote: “Im very busey [sic] around the house and I work in a factory I paint in fall, winter & spring time I enjoy summers the most.” In 1945 she came to Chicago from Canada and worked for twenty-seven years in an electronics factory, doing machine and assembly work. Like The Circus, [SAAM 1986.65.108] her paintings are usually on four-by-four-foot canvases, and are brightly colored and extremely detailed. Though she has an easel, Felski prefers to paint with her canvas spread flat on a table. In this work, she includes virtually every conceivable circus act, particularly those involving animals. She was often inspired to paint animals—bears, deer, mountain goats, etc.—from photographs taken by her brothers in their native British Columbia.
Lynda Roscoe Hartigan Made with Passion: The Hemphill Folk Art Collection in the National Museum of American Art (Washington, D.C. and London: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1990)
Albina Felski’s paintings were inspired by her childhood in British Columbia, the hunting and fishing trips with her brothers, and birthday parties and trips to the circus. She loved to draw as a child and often made posters and cards for her school to celebrate different holidays (letter from the artist to Julia Weissman, September 1972). During the war, Felski labored as a rivet catcher in a Canadian shipyard, and then moved to the United States to work for an electronics company. She retired after twenty-seven years and devoted all of her time to making art, painting large, detailed images on canvases laid flat on her dining room table. (Artist biography, Karen Lennox Gallery, Chuck and Jan Rosenak research material, 1990–1999, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution)