Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An interview with the artist Marina Povalishina

I met Marina on Etsy, a while ago. Her artwork commanded my attention. I love the emotions she captures in her artwork, her originality, and versatility in many different mediums. 

We have something in common, being born in foreign countries. We see life with different eyes, enriched by our experiences of knowing these two so different worlds. 
I see these worlds in Marina's artwork. I see images that delightfully remind me, and bring distinctive memories of the marvelous Russian literary classics  I read through my youth.

So finally, enjoy the interview. My only regret is that I couldn't interview Marina in person, sitting in one of the San Jose coffee shops and chat about art, living, our past and  present lives...

Tell me about yourself.

My name is Marina Povalishina. I was born in Russia and lived there until  my husband, two daughters and I moved to California. But I keep in touch with my homeland by visiting every other year. I received  my art education in Russia:  I received my MFA  in decorative and applied arts  from the Moscow Academy of Industrial and Applied Arts (formally Stroganoff College).  

What is your opinion of arts education? Is an artist born or made - or both? 

Today the  term  "artist" is used too loosely. It has been forgotten by many that creating art, like every other profession, requires specific skills. I  really enjoy professional pieces of art that display confidence, virtuosity, knowledge of subject , and taste. 

I don't like it when an author attempts to hide his or her weaknesses under the pretense of "style". I  hate situations when I catch myself unable to express my ideas and resorting to compromises. Ideally, I would be skilled enough to express all of  my thoughts on canvas or paper.
But that does not mean that it is possible to create an artist from anyone simply through art education; being an artist is more of a vocation then profession.

Two great artists come to mind: one was born into a family of artists and received a brilliant art education - graduating several art schools. Another one did not receive any formal education and even, as many experts say, destroyed all his sketches to hide his lack of drawing skill -  leaving us only his best paintings. Both artists were geniuses. The first was Pablo Picasso, the other was Francis Bacon. 

What are your earliest memories of art?

My participation in the children's art city contest when I was about six years old. I remember that I painted our city's dramatic theater on blue paper with white guache. I  won first place for it. 
Were there other artists in your family?


Why do you do what you do?

Because I love art; because I am used to doing it; because it is an essential part of my life.  I started my art education at the age of eleven at a local art school for children. After that I attended an art college. Then at an art academy. I don't remember a  time when I did anything  that was not related to art.  I don't know any other way of living. If it were taken from my life  I would probably panic and then fall into depression.

What work do you most enjoying doing?

I enjoy creating small graphic works the most because I can easily experiment with various materials and techniques.

I cannot say I truly enjoy creating my oil paintings.  It requires such intense concentration and hard work that it is difficult to enjoy. During the process, I experience a variety of emotions - from desperation to ecstasy-  but I cannot say I enjoy the process, meaning it is not a relaxing pastime.

What jobs have you done other than being an artist?

I have been a guide and an oil painting restorer in an art museum, a graphic designer and an art teacher. I have even been a night-watch-woman. It was the only time when my work was not related to art, but during the day I prepared for entrance exams to an art academy. 

What do you miss most about your country?

I miss the company of my friends, mostly artists, with whom we would stay up all night  in someone's studio, talking about art, life, books, and philosophy. I sometimes need that kind of communication; it gives me inspiration and energy; it makes me younger and more enthusiastic. Unfortunately I have not found this type of  friends here. 

The second thing I miss about my country  is its colors of nature. California's nature , of course, is beautiful, gorgeous, splendid. Russia's nature cannot compete with California's magnificence. But I miss all those subtle delicate tones, colors, shades of Russia's twilight in the summer, the melancholic fading of colors in the fall, all those hues of white in the winter and rebirth of color in the spring. Only those who go through a long cold winter can fully appreciate the beauty of the  spring's beginning. 

What do you like—and/or don't like— about living in California?

I like how people are polite and friendly here. I like how people from different parts of the planet  can live here together so respectively.  But I don't like how often politeness becomes a habit when communication with other and the smiles turn out  to be just masks -  quickly put on faces - and greetings became just repeated words that mean nothing. 

People here often show much more enthusiasms towards you than they really feel. I would like to see more natural emotions in communication.

What inspires you?

Any artwork of any period and origin can inspire me. Classic music inspires me. Nature inspires me.

Conversations with  my best friends inspire me. Inspiration may come from everywhere. There are no breaks for artists; they always notice, catch and  feel beauty in everything around them. These thoughts and images continuously remain in the back of one's mind until suddenly a new image or idea springs up. 

What makes you angry?


What research do you do?

Right now I am doing research for my trip to Italy. It is exciting. 

 Name something you love, and why.

I love all beauty that is created by nature and man!
I love trees. They appear to me as astonishing creations on the Earth that we rarely notice.
I love my family, because it is my family.
I love art supply stores, because they are so mouth watering.
I love bookstores and libraries, because I love reading.
I much... 

Name something you don’t love, and why.

I don't love doctors' offices, hospitals and everything that is related to sickness and diseases.

What is your dream project?

I can not say I have a dream project. The purpose of creating, for me, is more the process than the result. Although, of course, I want to see my work finished.  

Creation of artwork is like a risky trip to an unknown land: it harbors discoveries and losses; happiness and grief;  luck and danger. I define my main purpose of creating art as a quest for the land of my absolute inner freedom.               

Favorite writer, favorite song, favorite inspiration ?

I cannot name one favorite song or writer.  However, there are some books  that I constantly re-read, such as "The Brothers Karamazov" by Dostoevsky  or "The Luzhin Defense" by Vladimir Nabokov.
"The Luzhin Defense" is a masterpiece marked with Nabokov's unbelievable ability to manipulate language and create images with words. 

Among artists, Van Eyck, Rembrandt, Bruegel, Francis Bacon are some of my favorites that come to mind.

Where can one view your work online?

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