I learned that Anastasia (Asya) Dubrovina was a visual ARTist not long after meeting her as a new co-worker at my job. Asya was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, grew up in Petereborough, NH, and now resides in Brattleboro, VT. I also learned that Asya was preparing for an ARTS Fair called “Broke Arts Fair” in Peterborough, NH on Saturday, June 11.
That’s what really piqued my interest… Wouldn’t it be cool to see what it’s like for an ARTist to create with a strict deadline, and to visit the home studio of a new Brattleboro transplant?! It represented such a thin slice of time in one’s life as an ARTist and a human being, that I requested the opportunity and privilege to ask her a few questions about her process.
Asya kindly obliged, and even made me some green tea. Our interview follows, as I was introduced to her soothing and beautiful paintings, with pictures of her studio, in all of it’s conflictingly blank-slate and color-bomb glory.
♥ Angel Mackinnon- Asya, tell me about your ART that you are working on for the Broke Arts Fair.
♥ Asya Dubrovina- I am making small paintings. It was hard for me to decide if I was going to have a theme for Broke, but this is mostly coming after a [6-month-long] painting program (near Hudson, NY), and I applied for Broke, so it’s something that I have to work on after the painting program so I wouldn’t go into a slump of not doing anything. [At the painting program], we worked on color, understanding color, what different colors feel like…
♥ AM- Do you have any paintings that aren’t as colorful?
♥ AD- I started with things that were more colorful, and now on this piece, I’m working with more muted colors…I’m trying to use these paintings as therapy, for me and for whoever gets them. This one (points to painting), I started painting after working so many days, and I just needed something soothing and relaxing, and I didn’t have very much energy. And so painting with bright colors would have been really overstimulating, but this was really comforting.
♥ AM- So do you think that the fact that working with those colors being comforting for you, is the idea that that energy is sort of transmitted to the person who ends up being drawn to it, and buying it, and putting it on their wall?
♥ AD- Yea, I hope so. And they’re not complicated either, and they’re not supposed to be. I think people are really turned off from buying art and looking at abstract paintings because they don’t understand what’s happening. And I think mine are really simple.
♥ AM- Yea, but there’s room for interpretation. They’re simple, but there’s also a lot going on at the same time, so people can bring to it…whatever they want.
♥ AD- But they’re supposed to be comforting. And like even this one that I made (points to painting), it’s red and blue, I don’t even know if I’m going to include this, because it’s so… it’s kind of conflicting. Red, working with it, it’s really difficult, and what it bring out in me, so I don’t know what a person looking at this, what it would evoke. Because the red is a more fiery element, and blue a more calming one…
♥ AM- When I look at it, it’s almost like human biology, in a way. It’s almost like blood, blue and red, oxygenated or not. But it’s also like red is the tissue and the blue is the water in the body. So I sort of see that as really human, so conflicting is a good word.
♥ AM- So what inspires you?
♥ AD- Oh, so many things! This plant does… Seriously, plants and roots are a big factor. I think that’s why I have a plant in here.
♥ AM- How long has this plant been living in this studio?
♥ AD- Ever since I built the table and moved in, so about 3 weeks. It comes from a good home, so I was like, “Ah, I’m gonna keep this!” But after doing the 6-month course, and being outside, perceiving color is much stronger for me. So going for a walk, especially a couple of weeks ago, the greens, especially the lighter greens, I can be inspired by that, or how the color changes from daytime to nighttime.
♥ AM- Do you draw any inspiration from the cemetery across the street?
♥ AD- Well, I kind of use it like a park… It’s part of my morning ritual. It’s like…having a studio in a house seems kind of problematic, too, so I had this idea that I can do morning things, and then I’ll go for a walk to get coffee, or just walk, and I’ll come back, and it’s not to an apartment, but it’s to a studio. And it totally works! I’ll still use the kitchen and everything else, but the mind is definitely in the studio.
♥ AM- Yea, you’re tricking your brain. That’s awesome! I’m gonna try that.
♥ AM- So would you like to tell me what Broke is all about?
♥ AD- Yea, Broke is an Art Fair started 9 years ago, by Mary Goldthwaite-Gagne and Eric Gagne– they’re a couple in Peterborough. [Everything for sale is $50 and under]. It’s actually part of a larger event called “The Thing in the Spring!” and there’s a bunch of shows, and art installations, and sound installations, and Broke is in the center of town, in the Town Hall, on Saturday.
The Thing in the Spring! starts on Thursday, and then there’s Friday night events, and Saturday is the biggest day. There’s Broke and then there’s shows happening in other parts of the town. It really takes over the town, it’s incredible. And I grew up there, so to see it turned into this hub of awesomeness is really exciting… And it’s on my birthday!
♥ AM- Do you find having a deadline to be helpful for your process?
♥ AD- It’s only right now that it feels helpful. But before, well, I had only set up the studio, I only moved two months ago, so it took a while to get things set up; to get a job to pay rent… So then once I started, I feel I was doing all these really complicated things, and now I’m trying to do a painting really fast, which I think is really helpful. And so now I feel like the crunch of time is more helpful because it’s like I’m forced to make things faster, which is good. I mean, I could take so much longer on these- it’s really hard to make one in a couple of days.
♥ AM- You said initially that you wanted to make 40 paintings for the show. Have you adjusted that number, or are you still reaching for 40?
♥ AD- 15 would be good.
♥ AM- What do you think about creating paintings with the intention to sell them…Do you think that that could potentially affect the outcome, whether for the better or for the worse, or for whatever?
Might you look at a piece that you’re making and say, “Would someone buy this,” and might that change the next brush stroke? Like, “Maybe someone might like this color,” or are you trying to feel the presence of the potential person in the future, or is it just pure you? What do you think?
♥ AD- Well, I think it’s hard to imagine if someone is going to buy something. It has to relate to them, and they have to find some beauty in it. And a sense of beauty for different people looks a different way. So, if I don’t sell a single painting, that would be sad, but it’s ok. But with my paintings, I’m not thinking about what’s gonna sell, because the painting has to work for it to connect with someone else, and if it doesn’t work, then I don’t know if I even want to sell it.
♥ AM- And even if nothing sells, it seems like the deadline, and the reason for you to center yourself and create this studio, and to really make a nice serene space for yourself, that that’s a success. And if these pieces are truly therapeutic for you, then that’s a success.
♥ AD- Yea, and it also feels good to be able to go to the studio everyday. And as a student you do that because you’re forced to do it, but to voluntarily doing it, it feels really good, knowing that you can do it and also have an outcome. So that’s a pretty important thing to me moving forward, just with having an artistic life. Because with time off, it’s so easy, at least for me, to watch tv or to stare at the floor. ::laughs::
♥ AM- Whatever floats your boat!
♥ AM- Do you have a favorite (painting)?
♥ AD- Yea! I like this one quite a bit. (points to the painting below)
♥ AM- It’s very rose petal/rosebud.
♥ AD- ::laughs:: Leela and Aurélie told me that all they see is vaginas.
♥ AM- A lot of them! Not all of them, but that pastelly one (points to one), I don’t really see the connection. But that one (points to another), for sure. Multiple vaginas on one page!
♥ AM- Why is this one your favorite?
♥ AD- I don’t know, it just feels really good to me, the way the colors fit together.
♥ AM- Do you remember how you were feeling when you painted that?
♥ AD- It’s really funny, because I was really frustrated with painting, and nothing was really working out. And then somehow I sat down and decided to work with these colors…and this one was also really quick.
♥ AM- So after the fair, do you have ideas for what you’d like to do after that? Do you have any projects or anything else that you’re working on?
♥ AD- Yea, I have ideas. I’m gonna buy a video camera and start making videos again. ::laughs::
♥ AM- Nice, so you’re just a creator of all kinds of things!
♥ AD- Yea, I haven’t figured out where painting is in my life. There are some people who are like, “Painting is my thing,” and I met a lot of people like that at this (painting) program, and I don’t think that that’s how I am. Which I think is fine. Because I like to pick different things, and using art as a way of discovering things about life, and so you can use different mediums to do that.
I studied film in college, and I’m trying to get back to it. And I have some film friends in town who I’ve hung out with a few times, and they’ve kind of inspired me to make things again in that way. I have one friend who used to be my teacher, and he’s a teacher at Keene State, and he makes experimental films, that are more diary-based, of his life, and he does travel diaries, too. They are more like visual poems, they are so beautiful. So with paintings, what I’m really interested in and why I keep painting, is I seek movement, not in dance, but movement by painting.
And it’s like I’m moving something within me. So with film, I think of that as the same thing. It’s a different kind of movement, it’s movement in time. I really miss that as well.
♥ AM- It’s beautiful because these are movement in time also, though, because I can look at this (painting) and now that I know the story, I know that this one went fast, right? Faster than that one, or that one, and I can look at that and say that that was 4 hours of Asya’s life, on a piece of paper. And it really does represent that.
Be sure to visit the Broke Arts Fair Website for more details about the 9th year of this creative Peterborough event, and to get super excited about buying some affordable ART this Saturday, June 11.
And don’t forget, while you’re bouncing from one ARTists table to the next, to visit Asya, buy some ART therapy paintings, and wish her a Happy Birthday!
♥ Thank you so much, Asya, for opening up your home, your studio, and your heART to me. ♥