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6527212 July 29, 2011

Minya: A Creative Lifestyle

"Creativity is a lifestyle. I think that at some point in life one has to decide if he or she wants to follow their creativity and search for alternative ways, or to accept solutions and decisions that have already been established."

Einstein said, "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, his eyes are closed." 

This is particularly comforting to me today.  I've been sitting here worrying about the fact that I'm still a mystery to myself after 45 years.  I won't share the details but I've recently been reminded (once again) that despite all my education and achievements, I have the spirit of a child.  She dominates when she should be off frolicking in some back corner of my mind, picking imaginary, sun-drenched daisies while she hums a happy tune. 

At times, I'm confident that the little girl who won't go away is responsible for my ability to create interesting artwork, think outside the box, break rules (most of the time in positive ways now), get blissfully lost in my imagination, and in conjunction with my mature brain, make connections others do not.  I love that aspect of her resistance to stand back.  I just wish the world were structured in a way that would enable the two of us to be more comfortable.  I wish we could have our cake and eat it, too.  Most of the time, she's eating the cake and I'm starving. 

My guest today, artist Minya, notes that all children are in some way artists. At an early stage, the vast majority of us danced, sang, colored, banged on pots and pans, and pretended to be all kinds of things.  I made salads out of plants; played house for hours; colored a thousand pictures with crayons and magic markers; pretended I was chewing gun when I couldn't sleep; and made a mansion for my paper dolls out of flattened boxes ... among other things.  As Minya says, all children explore their imagination, but sometimes I think I went overboard out of necessity.  For some of us, especially those wired to be highly imaginative, pretending offers a unique brand of solace in the midst of dysfunctional situations.

I didn't fully emerge from my early flight of fancy until I was about twelve.  When I finally peered into reality, I didn't cope very well.  As a child, there was a part of me who was sucking life in, processing, and analyzing.  That girl filed a tremendous amount of information away with the idea that she might deal with it later.


Now I realize why the kid is so strong and the other so often weak. I realize why I'm still more comfortable in the role of the playful, imaginative girl whose willing to notice and take in what swirls around her, but prefers to shove it to the side, sending it to the auto processing file rather than deal with it. 

My goal is to keep aiming to balance myself while embracing the creativity that still fuels my spirit.  Several years ago, after fighting it, I decided to choose creativity as a lifestyle.  It suits me best and feels right.  I'm still transitioning in many ways.  I'm evolving just as I did when I chose as a young adult to put limits on my creativity, to squelch it so that I could live the type of life everyone expected of me.  Doing so had its rewards, but finally I realized there is no true choice, only a battle.  We are who we are, and it's best to accept the wiring we were allotted on production day.  

Minya tells us that her paintings symbolically illustrate the journey mankind has made – from prehistory and cave painting, to modern technologies and ways of communication used today (computers, TV, phones).  Her work metaphorically comments on actual events and contemporary life.  Maybe at a philosophical level, Minya's work somehow expresses how I've evolved from the day I decided to lump disproportionate paper dolls made by different toy companies together (because that's how real people are, thought the little girl), and play out their lives on a 6' x 6' detailed cardboard blueprint of the home I wanted to have.

The week I spent making the paper doll house was like any other.  I could have chosen to play outside.  I could have watched television all week.  I could have done anything but I didn't.  I had an idea, a concept, and was driven to create something that was unique and unavailable to me by any other means.  I didn't care that nobody wanted to do it with me.  I was willing to do the work, and I made it a reality.

But as Minya points out, it's important to understand that the work is never completely finished.  I see that now; I won't stop again.   

Have you always know you would be an artist? How has your artistic life evolved?

I believe that all children in their early stages when they start communicating with their environment, are in some way artists! They express their deepest and most sincere emotions in a straightforward way: by dancing, singing or drawing. Some of them continue to analyze their feelings and environment throughout their life by expressing themselves in some form of art. I am one of those! My artistic expression has changed and evolved during my growing up: my artistic research became more complex and articulated following my interests, and so did the materials and techniques I’m using.

How would you best describe your personality, and how your art relays that to the world.

I am, by nature, a person who notices and carefully studies their surroundings. I define my artistic expression methodically and with a lot of attention. My works represent, in a metaphorical sense, commentaries on actual events and contemporary life.

With regard to your current creative focus, was there an "ah-ha" moment you can tell us about?

Those “moments” do occur, they come periodically.  They represent turning points in my creative phases. They happen occasionally but do not come out of the blue! They are the result of a continuing work.  It has happened several times that, while working on one series of works, when I’m most satisfied and inspired, that “moment” strikes and suddenly a rather different painting comes out! That moment I recognize as a turning point, the beginning of a new series. That somehow happens naturally and easily and I know exactly what I need to do next, as if there is some kind of recipe I have to follow.

You do quite a bit of work on Plexiglas. Can you tell us a little bit about how you came to appreciate this medium and what draws you to it?

Plexiglas is a material that in a way imposed itself to me in past few years, as it is a perfect medium for expressing my artistic thoughts. It is, as a material, in contrast with the natural pigments I use for painting. With this contrasting effect I want to point out a very interesting fact: during history people always wanted to catch the moment they live in, to register what is happening around them at that instant. They wanted to record it and to send a message to the following generations. Through my paintings I symbolically illustrate the journey mankind has made – from prehistory and cave painting, to modern technologies and ways of communication used today (computers, TV, phones). In my paintings that is depicted with natural pigments on the smooth surface of Plexiglas.

I also like the transparent nature of the material. I apply pigments on both sides of Plexiglas but at the same time I take great care of areas that will remain transparent. When finished, my works are mounted on the wall with the distance of few inches from it, hence creating shadows behind painted parts that can be seen through transparent ones. This, as a result, creates the impression of visual depth and third dimension

Do you believe some of the various attributes related to being highly creative have caused you aberrations (issues) in life, helped you deal with life's aberrations, or both?

Creativity is a lifestyle. I think that at some point in life one has to decide if he or she wants to follow their creativity and search for alternative ways, or to accept solutions and decisions that have already been established. Naturally, rules and codes of conduct exist in every society, but it is for each individual to decide how they will relate to them. That is one of the aspects I like to explore in my works. With straight lines and arranged square forms I want to suggest those rules, control and regulations. On the other hand, free hand movements and paint drippings suggest the “human factor”: creativity, surprise factor, unpredictability, improvisation. I personally have chosen improvisation and creativity as my contribution to the society I live in.

In what ways does art sooth or inspire you during difficult or challenging times?

During the creative procedure, the artist is exempt from all boring, trifling, everyday rules and procedures that make life complicated. They are free to express themselves and act free of any social and bureaucratic constrains. The artist is completely alone, with their tool to create anything they want – that feeling is elating and makes you feel limitless.

Have you ever had to deal with people in your life failing to understand your creative personality, interests, or drive? If so, can you tell us about it and how you've dealt with it?

I was blessed to grow up in a family of artists, both of my parents are painters. I was surrounded by people who understand and appreciate art ever since I can remember. That experience prepared me and gave me ability to search and find an appropriate interlocutor through my life.

Have you developed a specific creative process that enables you to meet your artistic goals? If so, can you tell us about it. Where do most of your ideas come from?

For me, every new painting I create represents an individual research. It is primarily with relation to the technique, but also regarding the artistic concept. New discoveries, experiments but also new casual effects, contribute that one idea evolves through its transformation. My ideas breed slowly and before I present them to the general public they have to go through a complex process of maturation.

What do you believe places an artist apart from his or her peers? So many are highly talented, but what makes one stand out as truly gifted?

What distinguishes one artist from another, and sets them apart is their ability to present their artistic idea. It is important that an effort of research and study of a certain phenomenon is shown. Experimentation and research of new and original ways of expression, new materials and modern technologies are also essential. More interesting, intelligent and courageous those ideas are - more brilliant and extraordinary is the artist himself.

What is your primary motto or mantra in life? Why is this important to you?

I think it is essential that one never considers their work completely finished.

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