We had the good fortune of connecting with Yuliya Lanina and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Yuliya, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I have always gravitated towards art. As a child I wanted to be a performer. I liked music and singing. After I had moved to the US at the age of 16, I began drawing a lot. In a way it was my way of communicating at a time when I did not have the ability to communicate through words. Art helped me cope with many things in life, including my mother’s early death. The decision to pursue art as a career came in the wake of 9/11. I was in New York working as a graphic designer inside a Midtown skyscraper. It was chaotic, no one knew what was going on, but it felt that a war had broken out and we were all going to die. At that moment I had a strong feeling of sadness that I did not fulfill what I truly was meant to do in my life, and that was to be an artist. So I decided that were I to live, I would do just that. It took me a year to leave my job with a good salary and benefits, but I never questioned this decision.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I want to create a personal connection with the viewer and I try to achieve this using a variety of mediums that bridge traditional media with new technologies, such as video, robotics, Virtual Reality, and performance. Through my work, I examine the relationship between absurdity, sexuality, and trauma with a particular focus on physical and psychic reconstruction through reassembling disparate parts. I often work intuitively, leading with the subconscious and embracing the nonsensical and surprising that comes as a result.
My path has not been easy. I came to the US alone at the age of 16, which led to all kinds of unfortunate events. If not for art, I am not sure I would have made it through. My parents were not supportive of my creative pursuits, so I learned how to be self-driven. In a way, I see art as my life partner. The relationship is up and down, but the mutual love and commitment sustains it. I try to work no matter what. In New York for a while I improvised a studio out my tiny kitchen, producing work that made up my first solo show. These days, the main constraint is time. Because of Covid, my kids are home all the time, making it difficult to engage in deep thinking. Yet, I continue working. It is much slower these days, but I strive for consistency. The project I am currently working on is quite different from my previous work. I received a Fulbright to Vienna to work on an animated film inspired by the legacy of Viennese-born painter Friedl Dicker-Brandeis. She dedicated the last years of her life teaching art to kids at the Terezin concentration camp before ultimately ending up in the gas chambers at Auschwitz. Lately I’ve spent a lot of time reading about the creative life in Terezin. Many of the artists in Terezin concentration camp found the energy and drive to create, produce plays and teach after 10 hour long workdays, hungry, not knowing when it would be their turn to take the train to death camps. Art for them and those around them was a form of spiritual resistance. That in a sense is the true meaning of art.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Because of Covid, we spend a lot more time outside in the parks. Luckily there are many of them in and around Austin. I would for sure take them to The Barton Creek Greenbelt. We can spend a whole day walking the trails, and have lunch on the outdoor patio of TacoDeli. Commons Ford Park is my most favorite place these days. I see people spend many hours bird watching there. One can see wild turkeys and armadillos there on occasion as well. I would also take them to my favorite art spaces: GrayDuck, Women and Their Work, MOHA, Canopy, James Turrell’s Skyspace, and the Blanton Museum to name a few.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to thank Jeanette Fintz and Judith Bernstein, my teachers at SUNY Purchase who helped me through the most difficult time in my life by allowing and encouraging me to pour all of me into art. I would also like to thank my advisors Marcy Bachman (Westchester Community College) and Jon Esser (SUNY Purchase) for their support. I would also like to thank my family: Sasha Lanin (brother), Olga Lanina (sister-in-law), their children Sasha and Misha, Yevgeniy Sharlat (my husband) and my daughters Katya and Anya – all of whom I love very much.

Website: http://www.yuliyalanina.com
Instagram: yuliya.lanina
Linkedin: yuliya-lanina
Twitter: @lanina_yuliya
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ylanina
Youtube: yuliyalanina

Image Credits
My portrait is by Leon Alesi

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