UMD Announces 2nd 10 Winners of 5th Annual Macedonian Diaspora’s 40 Under 40 List

The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) is proud to announce the second 10 winners of its 5th Annual Macedonian Diaspora’s 40 under 40 List! With these Awards, UMD recognizes the talent, the accomplishments, the potential and the pride in their Macedonian heritage of these 40 honorees and all under the age of 40.

“Macedonians are hard working people and have and continue to make a mark in the societies we live in – it is only appropriate that UMD recognize our own as role models in their respective communities as well as for future generations of Macedonians,” said Argie Bellio, UMD Indiana Chair and 40 Under 40 Coordinator. “Including this year, UMD has recognized 200 talented and extraordinary individuals of Macedonian heritage making an impact worldwide, all dedicated to their Macedonian roots.”

Last week, we announced the first 10 winners (read HERE), and the remainder over the course of the next two weeks.

For the first time ever, 40 under 40 Award Winners will be recognized during UMD’s 15th Anniversary Gala in Washington, D.C., which is slated to take place Fall 2019 or Spring 2020. All current and past winners will be invited to receive a special 40 under 40 recognition. In the future, UMD has plans to host an annual 40 under 40 awards ceremony.

Nominations for next year’s list can be submitted HERE.

Congratulations to the second 10 of UMD’s Macedonian Diaspora’s 40 under 40 Award Winners!!!!


Blagoj Arizanov
Elena Dunovska
Kristijan Ilijevski
Marijana Josifovska
Risto Kotevski
Nikol Mitanovska
Aleksandar Popovski
Sonja Sekulovski
Joshua Sherman
Ivanco Talevski


Blagoj Arizanov, 30
Roots from Borisovo, Macedonia

Blagoj Arizanov was born in the village of Borisovo, in the municipality of Novo Selo, South Eastern Macedonia. Arizanov completed high school in the municipality school of Jane Sandaski Strumica and graduated at the Faculty of Economics in Prilep.

Today, he is an international entrepreneur, branding strategist and startup investor, founder and CMO of the globally acknowledged StayUncle hotels for couples in India, started in 2016 and his latest company WordSmith Media, headquartered in Estonia. He is author of the bestselling book The White Trophy (Белиот трофеј).


As harsh as it may sound I grew up with lot more awareness about my shortcomings as a Macedonian and my road to success has actually been my hustle to crack and solve each one of them. At the same time despite of the hard life in a village with primitive farming methods the cultural vibe of the recent masters was pretty much alive and I still consider myself happy to be born in the same place like some of Macedonia’s greatest minds like Vidoe Podgorec.

Endurance. Perseverance. The beautiful stoic nature of the Macedonian, his graceful standing and rich folklore despite centuries of difficulties and oppression.

Take braver, bolder moves. Being the back office of Silicon Valley was a matter of pride yesterday but today we have to push products on the global stage because the markets have become global. We can do way better than Ajvar and there is nothing to convince me otherwise.

Elena Dunovska, 30
Roots from Struga and Ohrid, Macedonia

Elena Dunovska is a first-generation Macedonian-American who was born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Her father is from Struga and her mother is from Ohrid, Macedonia.

Her first trip going to Macedonia, as far back as she could remember, was when she was seven years old. Once Dunovska had a taste of freedom and adventure, there was no going back, she continued to travel to Macedonia almost every summer going into her teenage years and even adulthood. Her parents always taught Dunovska the importance of knowing who she is, where she comes from and she realized at a very young age that she wasn’t exactly like her peers.

She graduated in 2010 from Broward College in Fort Lauderdale with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. A recession in full effect, Dunovska accepted her first position at Wells Fargo Bank as a Personal Banker. She would work there from 8-5 and then began math tutoring sessions for high school students in the afternoons. Working almost everyday between the two jobs, she quickly realized she needed to change her course of action if she wanted to grow. Dunovska always knew she wanted to be in business and had a passion for beauty and fashion but there were no good paying jobs at the time. After about a year and a half, she would build up the courage to leave both jobs to go on a mini sabbatical. Dunovska traveled to many different cities and countries within a five month span; during this time she continued to apply for jobs and graduate schools.

She received her first phone call from Michael Kors for an Assistant Store Manager position in Chicago, Illinois. Immediately accepting the position, she found herself two weeks later living and working in Chicago. While living in Chicago, she met her husband, Mihajlo. Together they have a beautiful son named Valentin. Eventually, she would land her dream job as a Store Director for Louis Vuitton, so many amazing experiences, traveling, opening new stores, and leading training seminars in NYC. But deep down inside she knew she still wasn’t being challenged, this leads to Dukyan Online. Finally having the courage and means to quit her job and completely start something she loves, this past year has been one of the most challenging yet somehow the most rewarding year of her life.

Together with her partner, Nikol Kotevski, their vision for Dukyan is so much deeper than just clothing and fashion; in this current time and all the different issues they are faced with as a people, it’s the chance to show the world that immigrant children can make an impact and that women will be the change we see in the world.


Being Macedonian has definitely instilled a fire in me simply knowing the hardship my parents as immigrants endured coming to this country. I know how fortunate I am and do not take that their sacrifice, for a better life for me, for granted. This is what has set the bar in life. I always knew that I had to give my best to be the best and in return I have grown both professionally and personally from those experiences.

My favorite part of our culture would be our music and probably what makes me most proud to be Macedonian. My parents would always be playing music in our house, especially on the weekends! My home was known as the “party” house where everyone would gather and stay over into the early hours of the morning playing music, singing and dancing.

Nothing comes without fight and determination. I feel like young people, in general, are always told to go to school, graduate, get a job, etc; This isn’t to say that going to school and getting your degree or multiple degrees is not commendable, but what I do want to encourage is thinking outside the box. I want to urge young Macedonians all over the world to truly pursue their dreams. Do not be the norm and the crazier your dream seems the harder you should work towards attaining it.

Kristijan Ilijevski, 29
Roots from Drmeni and Evla, Macedonia

Kristijan Ilijevski’s father is Blaze Ilijevski from the village of Drmeni, Macedonia, and his mother, Mirjana Ugrinovska from the village of Evla, Macedonia. They immigrated to the United States, specifically Columbus, Ohio, in 1988, and two years later Kristijan was born. He has gone back to Macedonia every year since he was six months old.

He earned his BA in History from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, being on the Dean’s List throughout, and a MA in Archeology from Saints Kiril and Metodij University in Skopje, Macedonia.

For the past seven years, Kristijan has lead and managed the transportation department of one of the biggest hospitals in the U.S., Aultman Hospital. He also owns and manages private rental and commerical properities in Ohio. In his spare time, he is a very active member of the St. Nikola Macedonian Orthodox Church in Massillon, Ohio.


As a young child, I could never understand why my American friends did not speak Macedonian. As I got older I realized that I was special. I could speak English with some of my friends and Macedonian with my family. As youngsters, my brother and I, learned that nothing comes easy and free. Our parents built a great life for us and we intended to continue the legacy. Family, traditions, and ethics are few things that are of great importance to my culture that I intent to keep and continue cherish.

I am a proud successor of Alexander The Great, student of Kiril and Metodi, and a mentor and teacher to the new generations of young Macedonians.

One, learn as much as you can about your roots and you will find out that Macedonian culture is one of the oldest in existence, something to be very proud of. And two, no matter where you are, don’t forget to speak in your language. Every language is good to know, but never forget your own.

Marijana Josifovska, 30
Roots from Bitola, Macedonia

Marijana Josifovska was born in the city of Bitola, Macedonia and grew up in Toronto, Canada. While pursuing her HBA in Economics at the University of Toronto, Josifovska was an active member of the student body, serving as Vice President of University Affairs and Academics. It was in this role that she began to cultivate her passion for the energy industry and founded the consulting firm Investors Beyond Borders, which has become one of the most recognizable names in the energy industry globally. Creating and organizing the first and largest renewable energy case competition focusing on projects in emerging countries, Josifovska focused the attention of investors and academics on the opportunities to invest in the Republic of Macedonia. Some of the most prestigious academic institutions and organizations from around the world took part and the competition was simultaneously held in five countries. The finale culminated across seven days in Macedonia, hosting participants and observers from around the world.

Josifovska’s initiatives were recognized by the Presidents of the University of Toronto, University of Toronto Mississauga and Governing Council and she also became one of the faces of the University’s historic $2 billion fundraising campaign, Boundless.

In 2015, Josifovska was appointed to the position of First Secretary of the Embassy of the Republic of Macedonia in China and tasked with the responsibility to establish and head the first Shanghai office for Macedonia’s Agency for Foreign Investment and Export Promotion.

Through economic diplomacy, she contributed to the growth in the relationship between China and Macedonia, rebranding and elevating the perception of Macedonia amongst her Chinese and foreign counterparts. Josifovska led cooperation efforts and was instrumental in presenting Macedonia as a vital component in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. As a regular invited speaker at China’s most influential conferences, she actively promoted investment opportunities, highlighting Macedonian industries and products and guided Chinese investors as they explored the region.

She is currently a venture capitalist located in Shanghai, China supporting women in technology.


My upbringing and my family taught me the importance of knowing and maintaining a close connection to one’s heritage and culture – it is an integral part of who I am. There is a famous Chinese Proverb that goes “To forget one’s ancestors is to be a brook without a source, a tree without a root”. In many aspects of my career, my Macedonian heritage has played a significant role. It has been a source of inspiration and a focus of much of my work.

I value my heritage and am grateful when given the opportunity to contribute to the Republic of Macedonia and its people. Personally, as an active member of the Macedonian community in Canada and now China, I have organized and taken part in events showcasing Macedonian music, cuisine and culture. Being able to share our culture with others around the world and finding similarities in the traditions and customs that we share has been rewarding.

The advice that I would give to our future young leaders is to have a passion for life and to never stop learning or being curious.

Risto Kotevski, 32
Roots from Velusina and Brajcino, Macedonia

Risto Kotevski is a first-generation Macedonian, born in Toronto, Canada, to parents Vasko and Vesna. As a successful serial entrepreneur, he has established and ran his own companies from the age of eighteen. After graduating from high school, Kotevski earned an academic scholarship to attend the prestigious Trinity College at the University of Toronto. With an already successful company and having graduated with an HBA in History and Political Science, Kotevski’s life was altered forever with the passing of his beloved maternal grandmother, Donka Popovski.

This tragedy truly put life into perspective for Kotevski, pushing him further and harder to impress and do well by his grandparents and family, through greater success in both personal and professional capacities.

Kotevski is the founder of Velusina Design and Construction Inc, a full service luxury Design Build firm specializing in the design, construction and fruition of High End Residential and Commercial construction projects. Investing in himself, Kotevski started buying, building and selling custom homes in Toronto while gaining a following and a notoriety for his exceptional quality, attention to detail and stunning in house designs.

Active within the Macedonian community, Kotevski is the former president of the Macedonian Youth Group, Moyana, and current member of the church board at St. Clements of Ohrid Macedonian Orthodox Cathedral in Toronto.

Currently, you can find Risto at any of his various job-sites throughout the city of Toronto and the GTA. Risto currently resides in Toronto with his wife Tatjana. When he is not working he loves to spend time with family, to travel and spend Sundays cruising in his classic muscle cars.


Growing up as a first-generation Canadian, my Macedonian heritage has been a key factor in shaping me into the entrepreneur and person I have become. Being raised by a large and loving family, I have seen first-hand the struggles that my parents and grandparents have had to ensure in Macedonia and in Canada. Seeing their relentless work ethic truly puts life into perspective, and forces you to appreciate all of the blessings that they have provided our families with. My integrity, determination, appetite for success and underlying core principles of family and hard work are direct principles inherited by the elders that helped raise me. In my profession, I have made a conscious effort to work just as hard and with just as much integrity as those before me, so that I can make them proud of how much they have sacrificed so that I could have a strong foundation for my family and generations to come in Canada.

To choose one thing that I am most proud of with respect to my Macedonian Heritage, would be to not provide a full picture of everything that I truly love. I cherish and deeply relate to all facets of our history, whether it be dancing proudly with my folk group as a child to observing and listening to all of our sermons at St. Clement of Ohrid Church. However, nothing is more heartwarming than reminiscing of the smells, sights and sounds of cooking and baking with my Baba as Macedonian music bellowed throughout the house. Our culture is so rich and of such great importance to me that when I recently got married, I made sure to incorporate all of our traditions to match a proper Galichka Svadba. From picking up my bride on a black horse in my great grandfathers clothing surrounded by the surreal musical legends Milan Zavkov and his band, I would not have had it any other way but a truly Macedonian wedding. I could not have imagined a better start to the next chapter of our lives together, with our family, customs, culture and religion at the forefront. Being Macedonian is deeply ingrained in my roots, it is a part of my identity and the way I live each and every day of my life.

My advice to the proud Macedonian generation to follow is: Never, ever forget your roots, your values and everything that makes us Macedonian. Being born Macedonian is not only an honour but a responsibility to never forget all those before us, and the sacrifices and significant historical contributions that were made in the name of Macedonia and our people. It is these humble beginnings that allow us to appreciate all that we have now, that we have fought for, and that we work towards. Use these reminders to fuel you and ignite your passions in any field that you pursue, as this will bring all that you will achieve into true perspective. Explore your curiosity and passions, but remember nothing in life is given, rather it is earned. Your life will not be defined by the attaining of your goals, rather it will be defined by the path which you take to get there.

Nikol Mitanoska, 31
Roots from the village of Nakolec in Prespa, Macedonia

Nikol Mitanoska was born and raised in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. She is first generation Macedonian American and daughter of immigrant parents from the village of Nakolec in Prespa, Macedonia. As a child of foreign parents, it was very hard for Mitanoska to integrate with American society. Having been extremely shy, she remembers not fitting in with everyone around her simply by how she was dressed or by how her mother would do her hair. When she was just six years old, Mitanoska’s parents took her for the first time to Macedonia. Her fondest memory of that summer was playing outside with all the kids and realizing for the first time that she did fit in somewhere. That small boost of confidence would help her grow as she got older and shape her into the assertive woman she has become today. Mitanoska attended The Ohio State University where she acquired her Bachelor’s degree in Fashion Merchandising with a concentration in Textiles and Clothing.

After graduating in 2009, during the U.S. recession, Mitanoska found herself amongst the many entering an unstable economy with an unemployment rate peaked at 10% and decided to accept an internship in New York City working in a menswear showroom. While interning, she received her TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate be able to teach English abroad. Considering that the internship she had accepted in New York City was unpaid, she decided to apply and accept a teaching position in Denizli, Turkey where she taught English to middle school students. The Federation of Balkan American Associations (FEBA) was an organization where all the teachers were of Balkan heritage and allowed the teachers to both teach and travel.

After about a year of teaching, Mitanoska received a call from Elena Dunovska with an offer to be in a management position with Michael Kors in Chicago, IL. Mitanoska took advantage of this chance to come back to the US and begin working with a major fashion label. With some fashion experience under her belt Mitanoska eventually moved on to marketing where she exclusively managed the McDonald’s account. As an Account Manager, she managed the creative and production process for both Happy Meal toys and branded merchandise. With such diverse experience under her belt, Mitanoska knew that she would be able to use this to build something greater.

In July of 2018, Mitanoska left her position in marketing for a new venture with Dukyan Online. Finally, she was able to realize a dream that she had been studying and dreaming about her whole life.


Growing up, my parents taught me two important values that I am most grateful for; modesty and a strong work ethic. Being humble while striving for the best is something that I live by.

Кога одиш низ Босна, немој да пееш затоа што ќе те натпеат. Кога одиш низ Србија, немој да играш затоа што ќе те надиграат. Но кога одиш низ Македонија, немој ни да пееш ни да играш затоа што и ќе те натпеат и ќе те надиграат.

This proverb explains it best! Music is the heart and soul of our culture. From the emotional stories told through song lyrics to the instrumental compositions that leave you with chills, Macedonian folklore music is by far one of the richest and appreciated by many cultures worldwide.

Get out of your comfort zone, take risks, break some rules and follow your dreams no matter how crazy. Stop playing it safe, accept that job across the country away from your family then quit that same job just to go and travel for a bit (you’ll find another one). Discover your independence and don’t get discouraged; If it didn’t go right the first time, I promise you the seventh time it will!

Aleksandar Popovski, 34
Roots from Struga, Macedonia

Aleksandar Popovski hails from Struga, where he fell in love with Macedonian poetry and literature on the banks of the river Drim. He finished high school in Skopje and moved to the U.S. at age seventeen. He holds a B.A. and M.A. from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Plattsburgh.

He has worked in international education for the past thirteen years. He has held leadership roles at several public and private universities, most recently as Assistant Dean of the Graduate School at Binghamton University (SUNY).

Popovski is the owner of Ucredo, a nationally-recognized credential evaluation and translation company based in Florida. Ucredo equates education from abroad to the U.S. standard, and thereby helps foreign-trained individuals to qualify for employment, pursue further education and attain licensure in the United States. Popovski is a proud member of UMD since its inception, and regularly contributes to UMD initiatives.


Being Macedonian, one is used to being in a state of constant struggle. Nothing comes to you on a silver platter, and nothing is achieved without a lot of pain and hard work. Luckily, we Macedonians have learned well how to persevere through hardship and to be persistent despite obstacles. I would rate hard work and grit as our greatest assets.

I am proud to be a child of the sun, a member of a culture that spans the length of recorded history, and one that will not cease while the sun still shines. There are many things that I cherish: our rich language and its local dialects, our addiction to red peppers and tomatoes, our folklore and traditions. But most of all I love our community, which safeguards the very notion of being Macedonian through its generosity and largeness of spirit.

Whatever pressures, disrespect or callousness you may face, remember that you are Macedonians and the descendants of heroes. To keep the memory of our ancestors alive and to honor their sacrifice we have to keep our heads held high, strive to be good people, and keep on fighting for our rights.

Sonja Sekulovski, 37
Roots from Odri and Tetovo, Macedonia

Sonja Sekulovski is a thirty-seven year old Macedonian-American female, with strong Macedonia heritage and family line that comes from northern part of Macedonia; city of Tetovo. She was raised in the Metro – Detroit area of Michigan, United States of America.

As a young girl, she had strong passion in helping others, caring for the vulnerable population and being part of community. Thus, she pursued health care as her profession. She has earned her undergraduate degree, Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Oakland University, and her graduate degree, Masters in Nursing – Advance Nurse Practitioner from Madonna University. Since, then she has worked in various specialties including Gastroenterology and Infectious Disease.

Currently, she is a health care provider and member of the Palliative Medicine team at a Beaumont Healthcare Systems, where she is caring for patients with chronic and life threatening illness; while provided evidence – base quality of care with the focus on mind – body and spirit and quality of life.

She currently resides in Rochester Hill, Michigan with her husband Pece and her two sons, Philip (age 6) and Stephan (age 3).


My Macedonian heritage and culture as well as understanding my family roots has helped me grow and become well rounded, strong, independent and a hardworking female, who loves to inspire others.

The advice that I have for the next generation of young Macedonians is to continue to be proud of who we are, and where we come from. As well as, to nurture our culture, language, educate and empower others who do not know our country and our people. “United we are stronger and will have powerful voice.“

Joshua Sherman, 31
Roots from Bitola, and the surrounding villages of Lera and Lavci, Macedonia.

Born in Newcastle, New South Wales, to a Macedonian mother and non-Macedonian father, he has a deep affinity, love and connection to the Macedonian community. His maternal great-grandfather, Vasil, migrated to Australia in 1936 and settled in Newcastle, with my grandfather, Kocho (Kostadin) following some years later in 1954 and grandmother Velika in 1959. His roots are from the villages of Lera and Lavci in the Bitola region of the Republic of Macedonia.

Sherman’s upbringing centred on adhering to the traditions of the Macedonian Orthodox faith, and respecting the Macedonian cultural norms of family, community, working diligently and educational attainment. As a result, he has travelled extensively throughout all regions of Macedonia and places a high value to the education and life experiences that are gained through travel to one’s homeland.

Sherman has focused his attention to the study of the Macedonian language and literature since childhood. As part of his high school education, he studied the Macedonian literary language at the Saturday School of Community Languages in Newcastle, where he achieved a perfect score of 100% during my final Higher School Certificate examination. Sherman continued his studies in Macedonian at Macquarie University where he achieved a Diploma in Languages, specialising in Macedonian language, grammar and literature.

After completing some additional studies in community language teaching at the University of New South Wales, Sherman became an accredited teacher of Macedonian, and taught in Newcastle for over four years.

He is a well-known member of the Australian Macedonian community, having been active in many spheres since the age of 14, including the promotion of Macedonian cultural and artistic activities, Macedonian language studies and human rights issues. He was a central figure in the Macedonian community protests that occurred in 2017 and 2018 in Sydney and Canberra, including the Martin Place protest that attracted over 30,000 Macedonian Australians from across New South Wales.

One of his greatest passions in life is to ensure that young Macedonian Australians have ample opportunities to learn and grow within the Macedonian community, specifically by learning the Macedonian language, history and culture through educational programs and participation in Macedonian cultural and artistic associations. As a former Macedonian folkloric dancer, he places a high value on the benefits of participating in cultural activities which build capability and develop new skills. Macedonian dancing, theatre and the arts also allow for life-long friendships to flourish.

Outside of his work within the Macedonian community, he is a qualified project manager and public sector professional, having completed studies in a range of disciplines including business, public sector management, project management and quality auditing.

Sherman is a founding member and the current Chairman of the Australian Macedonian Council of New South Wales. His vision for the Council is to create an environment of Macedonian national unity that enables organisations and individuals to foster strong collaborative relationships to support the delivery of tangible results for Macedonians in NSW.


My Macedonian heritage has had a profound impact on my life from both a personal and professional perspective. Being an active part of the Macedonian community since early childhood, including participation in Macedonian folkloric dancing, Macedonian language lessons and an active member of my local Macedonian Orthodox Church, has allowed me to develop life-long friendships and further develop my Macedonian identity and self-consciousness. I can speak, read and write fluent in the Macedonian literary language, and have a solid knowledge of our history, traditions and customs. From a professional perspective, I have developed a strong set of transferable skills through my volunteer work in the Macedonian community, all of which complement my professional employment, including project and event management, financial management and commercial acumen. I have also had the pleasure of meeting inspirational mentors within the Macedonian community, all of which have had a profound impact on me.

As an Australian of Macedonian heritage, I am most proud to be a part of a thriving, connected and unified community that respects and maintains our rich Macedonian cultural and historical continuum from antiquity to the present. I am also proud of being part of a network of fellow professional Macedonians across the world who work together to advance and promote key issues for the Macedonian communities in the diaspora, including human rights, and socio-cultural issues. Finally, I am proud to be able to share my rich Macedonian heritage with the broader multicultural community in New South Wales, Australia, in order to foster a greater level of appreciation for our people, language and community, together with important Macedonian historical and cultural themes.

One of my greatest passions in life is to ensure that young Macedonian Australians have ample opportunities to learn and grow within the Macedonian community, specifically by learning the Macedonian language, history and culture through educational programs and participation in Macedonian cultural and artistic associations. My advice to the next generation of young Macedonians is to remain connected to who you are – your Macedonian culture and identity, and to embrace it fully. Our ethnic Macedonian identity provides us with the fruits to nourish our spirit – our Macedonian language, our rich history, music, culture and tradition, together with our Macedonian Orthodox faith. In the words of Marcus Garvey, “a people without knowledge of their past, history and culture is like a tree without roots.”

Ivanco Talevski, 35
Roots from Bitola, Macedonia

Ivanco Talevski is interdisciplinary artist and educator who splits his time between Philadelphia and his hometown Bitola, in the Republic of Macedonia. He is a Senior Lecturer at The School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania. In his work, he uses drawing as a primary way of sense making in dealing with representations of memory, history and belonging. All of his work involves opening up space for discussions and even disagreements, while searching for new visual forms.

He has presented his work in solo exhibitions in Philadelphia, New York City, Berlin, Bitola and Skopje. His works have been exhibited at the Print Center in Philadelphia, the International Print Center of New York, the Guanlan Print Museum in China, the National Taiwan Museum of Art, the International Print Triennial in Kraków, the Seoul Museum of Art in South Korea, The Metropolitan Museum of Tokyo and the Sakima Museum of Art in Okinawa, Japan, Hangar 18 in Brussels, Belgium, the Arthur Ross Gallery, Cindi Ettinger and Napoleon in Philadelphia. His work has been reviewed by The New York Times, Painting is Dead, Title Magazine and The ArtBlog.

He is a recipient of numerous awards and his works can be found in private and public international collections. He is currently working towards a solo exhibition project and his first book that will be presented at The Print Center in Philadelphia in the fall of 2020 and will highlight research and work around the lesser known drawings by Marko Cepenkov, in celebration of the 100th year anniversary of Cepenkov’s death.


Learning about the numerous examples of resilience and resistance to injustice of the Macedonian people, like those of Mirka Ginova, Gligor Prlichev, Georgi Pulevski, Marko Cepenkov, Kocho Racin and many others throughout Macedonia’s turbulent history have been formative in my development as an artist and an individual. The awareness of this lineage has forged my aspirations and vision for the kind of future I want to have as a citizen of the world.

I think it is absurd to be a proud human, given the state of things in the world. On the other hand, I have had the great pleasure in experiencing and learning about the creative genius of the peoples of Macedonia, and the cultural wealth and heritage of this chunk of land has served as a source of inspiration throughout my life. The frescoes of Kurbinovo, Nerezi and Perivlepta, the icons Pelagonotisa from Zrze and The Annunciation from Ohrid, the architecture of St. Sofia and Zaum from Ohrid, the archaeological artifacts and sites like those of Heraklea, Stobi and Ohrid, the wide range of diverse music from the past, like that of Vanja Lazarova, Kiril Manchevski, Mirvet Belovska, Ferus Mustafov, Leb I Sol, and that of the Roma tradition, or current sound like that of Vasko Dukovski, Ismail Lumanovski, Aleksandar Petrov and Simon Trpchevski, or the literature of Gligor Prlichev, Konstantin Miladinov, and Blaze Koneski, and films like Frosina and Happy New Year 49’, the drawings and sculptures of Dimo Todorovski, Petar Hadzi Boshkov, and Aneta Svetieva, the paintings of Dimitar Pandilov and Dushan Perchinkov, the animations of Petar Gligorovski, and the etchings of Dimche Nikolov, to name a few. And I am honored to say, in that I have met and collaborated with great number of exceptional creative thinkers from Macedonia currently working in all around the world.

Given the turbulent past and unpredictable future filled with challenges, not only for Macedonia and its people, but that of the world, more than ever we need to forge resistance to all kinds of injustice, to learn and foster curiosity and collaboration, in order to break down political, social, cultural and technological barriers and limitations. The political “elites” and the institutions of Macedonia have continuously failed to provide platforms for descent future for its people and its heritage. We need serious dedication to more innovative and imaginative models of existence, not the current ones that seem to continue to diminish human dignity and fail to cultivate healthy and sustainable environment.

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