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Heart of the Artist

Maria Petrovskaya is an award-winning visual artist who was born and rasied in Moscow but now resides in Lower Manhattan. Her colourful and thought-provoking work has been displayed in dozen of galleries in and around New York City.

What inspired you to take up painting and visual arts?
I remember I have dreamt of becoming a painter as early as being a 7-8 year old. Not sure what my motivation or inspiration were—since none of my family is an artist and no one particularly encouraged my passion for the visual arts.

Who were, and are, some core influences?
I love people, so people watching and all the art that depicts human form are the core influences—from Greek statues and vase drawings to Old masters' paintings to Picasso, Matisse and contemporary painters that work with the human body. Also, I love color—so all the good colorists—regardlless figurative or abstract are much appreciated..

What inspires you now?
Exactly what inspired me since I was a child (see the above paragraph). But I do have a recent development in my art practice.. I started using people's photographs as a reference point instead of solely relying on my memory/imagination, and it really enriched my paintings and added more depth and life to my characters.

What are the challenges of your vocation?
It's hard to make a living as an artist, and it's particularly hard to justify what you are doing in a world where monetary gratification often equals success. Also, being an artist requires an incredible amount of patience—because you work for years until you think you arrive at something interesting, only to figure out later that you were actually wrong or can do better..In brief—it's like starting out on a journey thinking the Earth is flat and you will eventually reach the edge of it, and then in the process of walking (or crawling/stumbling) you realize that it's actually round and the horizon line is always moving away from you.. But then it's a fun part as well—since you always keep moving..

What are the rewards?
The rewards are the thrill of the unknown (which can also be a down side), the pleasure of doing something you like, and a rather vain idea that your art can touch and bring pleasure/excitement  to someone else besides you..

Describe your work place.
My workplace is a small studio that I share with another person ( timeshare).. I keep it very clean and well organized, so nothing distracts me from looking at my art and working on my paintings.

For you, is the creative process more one of inspiration or perspiration?
It’s both. Everyone usually comments that I am a very hard working person, but I always feel I need to work harder/more. In my vocation (oil painting) it usually takes a while to develop good skills —so perspiration is required..
But then it's also very important to think about your art when you are out of the studio, often during the most mundane activities.. It really helps--I often «paint in my mind». So being an artist the work never starts or ends in the studio—it's a constant  brewing process that happens within you.

What are your thoughts on the state of the visual arts in NYC today?
NYC is an amazing place for visual artists because of its unlimited art resources--from biggest contemporary art museums and art galleries to small pop up spaces and art collectives that throw shows here and there.. And an amazing community of artistic people from all over the world that bring their energies and creative vision to make a unique mix. But then back to the «state of visual arts»-- it has a more formal and grimer side to it.. NYC is an incredibly competitive place—and often the selection criteria is based on secondary values and validations—like country of origin, gender, the schools attended, previous exhibits and publications, etc, and the actual merit of artworks becomes secondary.. And another problem—is that the «new art» is basically a derivative of the old approved art styles, just wrapped in a slightly different package and coming from a younger artists that fit the right criteria (see above).

What are your thoughts on the state of the visual arts in the U.S. and the world today?
In a way the art world is very segregated—there are  few major art capitals—New York being the biggest, where everything is happening. And often if you have a misfortune to live elsewhere (where access to the art resourses is limited) you miss on almost everything as an artist. That's the reason why artists are like birds gathering in flocks and migrating to certain spots in the world. The community makes all the difference..But then in the art world itself within these communities—there is a certain homogenity—in terms of art, styles, etc. So even if you look at the group shows of international artists—you see the same things you would see in New York on a regular basis, so there is a certain uniformity of styles.

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