interview for artsceneguru

20 on Tuesday with Olga Muravina

Olga Muravina is a Russian contemporary artist. She currently lives and works in Moscow. She is perhaps best known for her cast bronze sculptural works of children and animals that generate feelings of warmth, happiness and peace in anyone who sees them.
Janis Rucins: Were you always an artist or did you become an artist?
Olga Muravina: Since I can remember, I was creative from a very young age. Even when I was two and half years old I was already using play dough. I always had things in my pocket to make little lovely things for myself and my family. I think I was an artist since I was born.
JR: Do You remember your first conscious thought or action as an artist? When, where, and what was it?
OM: My art was always unconscious, and I never had conscious thoughts about it. I have been always creating subconsciously as I do now. I don’t think I can remember having any consciousness in my work.
JR: What is your creative process/method?
OM: My method is very simple. First I put ideas on paper – make little sketches from different angles. I make a huge number of these sketches. Then I turn the sketches into larger graphics, and I keep improving them until I recognize the image that I had in my mind. Then I put the idea into clay. I create as many versions of the clay figures as I can. After that I do the bronze casting, and it is my favorite way of creating. The subjects come from my mind subconsciously. Then I find clues – they come from things around me – toys, animals, situations with my son. That is how the image is born.
JR: Have experiences such as travel or exposure to other cultures changed the way you see, think or create? How?
OM: I have traveled a lot, but the impact on my work mostly comes from culture – art, books, plays. I do get inspired by other cultures, for example, African art, but mostly I am influenced by such artists as Giacomo Manzù, Marino Marini, Marc Chagall , Perm animal style , the art of the Renaissance, Romanesque art and more.
JR: There are many media/tools/techniques available for artistic expression. Do you have any favorites? Are there any which you prefer to stay away from?
OM: I really like mixed media techniques, and that is what i have been working in recently more and more. That would currently be my favorite. I see any technique as a good experience. I tried making chrome sculptures, and I quite enjoyed making them; however, after finishing, I went back to bronze casting. Then I also tried ceramics. I really am using a whole range of different techniques.
JR: Do you ever have doubts about your work? If so, how do you overcome them?
OM: Yes, of course. As an artist I have doubts during my work, but has to do more with the contrast of the original image in my head and the result. To overcome these doubts I just keep making better and better versions of what I see, until I recognize the image from my head in my hands.
JR: Do you think your work has social impact? Do you care if it does?
OM: The main message of my artworks is positive emotions which we all have in our lives. I am thinking of children, nature. I get peace looking at these things, so I try to give this feeling to the viewers of my artworks, so when they look at it, they would feel warmth and happiness – a peaceful feeling. So that is the main message of my artworks – to give people some peace.
JR: Do you use any personal symbols or references in your work?
OM: Well, most of my artworks have one thing in common – all my sculptures have their eyes closed so you can feel and see their self immersion.
JR: Do you often find yourself explaining the meaning of your work to your audience, or is your work self-explanatory?
OM: Usually, I don’t have to explain the meaning, and the artwork explains itself.
JR: Where do you position yourself in the discipline and history of art?
OM: I think that the audience gets to decide my position in the art world, but I see myself creating in fine arts style as this sort of art truly reflects my vision of the world .
JR: Is there an artist or artwork that you can identify with?
OM: The way of an artist is long, so that is why there are a whole line of people that have influenced my work. In different times there have been different artists that are similar to me and that I have identified myself with in situations and artworks. So I cannot name one or two because there has been a big amount of artists and all of them are my favorites, of course.
JR: What has been the most important event or experience in your career so far?
OM: Many events were important in my life. Every exhibition of my works has been important and exciting event which influences my work and style as an artist. Recently, there was a project in a small town of Perm in Russia. There were huge arched windows, and we did big color graphics of different animals in those – it was a very unusual project for me. Also there was a good show in Hague, Netherlands, and Moscow where I did some gigantic fiberglass toys. I was very proud of these experiences. Then there was another exhibition in Germany where we placed very big, seven meters long, bronze sculptures. It was a lot of work, and came out quite nice in the end.
JR: Struggle or Joy – which best describes your experience as an artist?
OM: Joy.
JR: Have you ever taken any side jobs to support your artist career?
OM: Yes, I have. But all these side jobs have been somehow connected with art, such as commercial projects. For example, I have done a huge collection of my ceramics figures. Also design work.
JR: What thoughts are in your mind as you wake up each day?
OM: I think about a cup of coffee..(laughs)
JR: Where or what is home for you and why?
OM: My home is with my closest people, my relatives, my family. It is not a building. It is a place with people whom I love. I can be moving from place to place, but I always like to come back there.
JR: What is your favorite smell/sound/sight/sensation/flavor?
OM: My favorite smells are those of my dearest people, my family, people I love. Also, in Moscow, the smell of spring is amazing, it is very bright after the cold winter. I also like the smell of grass and herbs – something green, especially when it is fresh and natural. I like the flavor of strawberry jelly, also herbs. I like the flavor of seafood – it has the flavor of freedom and never ending sea. When it comes to sounds, I prefer the silence.
JR: Describe your ideal/perfect day.
OM: Although I have got a lot of friends and I am a sociable person, and I try to visit many exhibitions, my perfect day is a silent working day with a home to come back to. Holidays make me a bit tired and useless. I like to wake up and to know that I have a long busy day, with a cup of coffee and a pencil in my hand, with lots of ideas. Then go to my studio, and work there in silence. I like to finish my day by coming home to my son, reading to him bedtime stories, and kissing him before sleeping. That is my perfect day.
JR: If you had to do another job for the rest of your life, what would it be?
OM: If I could choose another job, I would still be somehow connected to arts. I think I would love to make toys – beautiful natural toys for children. Or make illustrations for books. So it would still be related to the peacefulness of animals and children (laughs).
JR: What is next for you?
OM: Nowadays, I am interested in large scale street landscape sculpture work, and also some mixed media work. I am working on my next exhibition, but cannot give you any details on that yet.