In the Studio with Natalya Aikens


Natalya Aikens

When I look at the studio photos from Natalya Aikens, I see a direct reflection of her artwork. Natalya’s website is bilingual and her art reflects the Russian fairytales, folklore and decorative traditions of her birth city of St. Petersburg. Her artwork is instantly recognizable and, according to Natalya, “The focus of my materials and techniques is on recycled elements; vintage fabrics of personal history; sheer, translucent effects; intense hand stitching and machine work; computer manipulation.” Visit Natalya’s blog for updates from her studio as well as many beautiful photographs under “Wordless Wednesdays.”

1.  How do you find/make time to be in your studio?
I really can only be in the studio during the school day, so I make sure to schedule all my errands and “to do’s” either into one day a week or in the morning so that I can a have bulk of the school day in the studio. I am not always successful, but I keep getting better at keeping regular studio hours and keeping distractions at bay.

2.  Describe your studio in five words.

Functional, cluttered, organized, cozy, conducive to inspiration… can we count the last three as one?

3.  If you could pick only one thing from your studio to represent your art practice, what would it be?

My book cabinet that holds my favorite research materials which are books on different aspects of Russian and Slavic cultures and decorative arts, books on different art styles and movements, books by and about inspiring artists, my journals and on top a collection of glass weights, glass jars with mementoes, icons and postcards.

4. What is the best/worst space you have ever had as a studio?
The dining room table in my parents house was probably the worst. Having to forever clear it for dinner was not conducive to my creative flow…but that was eons ago. The best place is now, it is a converted garage that is part of the basement of our house. Two large windows were cut in to let plenty of light and there is a door off to the side so I can step outside as needed for a breath of fresh air or an extra dose of nature.

This is a detail of one of the three Fiber BONUSES Natalya is donating to Foto/Fiber 2012. Each of her Fiber BONUSES is a different colorway and contains hand painted dryer sheets, an ATC, color coordinated unique bits and pieces from her personal scrap selection, ribbons, yarns, buttons and threads. You may choose Natalya as your Fiber BONUS artist of choice on February 15.

5.  What would make a “dream studio” for you?

Taking over the adjacent playroom from my kids and spreading out! I wonder if they would notice if I slowly start encroaching on their space?

6.  What would you advise someone setting up a studio for the first time?

Take advantage of any space you have, whether it’s big or small, and just start creating in it and and adjust as necessary. It’s not the space or place that matters, it’s the work that’s created in it!

7.  Any unique features/studio pets you would like to share?

No studio pets in my house, but my children are occasionally inspired to spend time in there with me and I alway enjoy watching what they create and how they eek out a space for themselves among my clutter.

8.  Any exhibits or special projects we should know about?
I have several exhibitions coming up in Winter/Spring of 2012:
Piecing It Together at ArtsWestchester in White Plains, NY from January 28th to March 28th.
Russian Art II: Fiber, Paint, Photo – a two person exhibit at the Mahopac Public Library in Mahopac, NY from February 2nd to 28th.
My work will be at two venues during FiberPhiladelphia – Synchronicity at the HighWire Gallery from March 30th to April 27th, and Softer Edges: Fiber Artists and the Urban Environment at the Fleisher Art Memorial from April 2nd to 28th.
Links to all these exhibits are on my website.

***Please join us on February 15 and 16 for Foto/Fiber 2012, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.  Our goal:  Add $7000 to the $215,000 we have already donated to the ACS.***

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01 2012

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  1. Elena B. #

    Enjoyed your piece on Natalya Aikens. She is a gifted fabric artist with a lively imagination. Looking forward to see more of her creations this year. Nice job Cynthia…