Nadia Fediv | Painting her way into our hearts
The Munchies Art Club is thrilled to share with you the contemporary Ukranian artist Nadia Fediv who lives and works in Chicago and received her Bachelors in Fine Arts School of Visual Arts in Manhattan.
We have previously featured her swimming pool painting in our summer special article.
My name is Nadia Fediv.
I am an artist who is currently based in Chicago, Illinois.
I create paintings that represent my childhood, past insecurities, constant feeling of awkwardness, and isolation from the world.
I incorporate landscapes from my childhood neighborhood, past memories, and what it was like growing up in my hometown with immigrant parents.
When/how did you find out you are an artist, and tell us was your family supportive?
I grew up in an immigrant household.
Both my parents met here in Chicago but originally immigrated from Ukraine.
My mom grew up during the Soviet Union and decided to leave Kyiv at the age of 27.
She had decided to move to New York City to start a new life.
Months after immigrating both her parents had passed from cancer.
This made my mom growing up a bit overprotective of my brother and I.
But she never liked staying in one place. My mother always had a love for traveling and being outdoors.
She enjoyed taking us on random road trips, walks through museums, being out in nature, and involving us in activities.
I think that was the reason why I was such a curious and outgoing kid growing up.
Having that freedom to explore gave me the opportunity to discover what my passions/hobbies were from a very young age.
My dad’s side of the family were all artists.
My great uncle was a violin maker, his brother was an oil painter, and both my aunts were artists as well.
One who was a flight attendant and graduated from Pratt in Brooklyn. She quit her job and pursued her passion as an oil painter. My other aunt is a seamstress in Lviv, Ukraine.
Having this outside influence in my everyday life as a young child made me realize I wanted to be an artist as well.
I always had pencils, markers, and paint near me.
I can't tell you how many Lisa Frank editions I had laying around the house.
I'd be covered in ink marks, stickers, and paint.
After spending a long day outdoors, I would sit near the tv and use leftover phone book scraps to sketch the cartoons I was watching.
As I got older I became more curious about my family's past in art.
I would come to my aunt's studio, ask her about her past, and get lessons from her.
She would sit me down, open her big windows, play classical music, and teach me how to mix oil paint.
I still remember the strong smell of linseed oil and how happy and content my aunt was in her studio.
I would observe her walking around grabbing paints and the unfinished works still drying around her. She seemed happy and that was what always stuck with me.
But it was hard telling my parents, especially my mom, that I wanted to be an artist.
During my highschool and college years I struggled with finding myself.
I was told countless times by people who I had to be.
I was told countless times that I won't be able to achieve my passion.
That it would be a waste of time and that I’ll be back on a plane regretting my decision.
I struggled with deep depression, anxiety, and influence from outside voices to work for a “comfortable life”.
That this would all be a waste of time and mistake. At that point I was kicked out and my aunt took me in.
She was that push for me to switch my major and move out to New York City. I applied and got accepted to SVA.
My parents had warmed up to the idea when they saw me out there.
They saw the drive and passion I had since I was a kid. I never resented my parents for what had happened during that time.
In a way it pushed us to both be uncomfortable.
I was relearning who I was.
My parents had let go of the idea of outside acceptance and fear of rejection from the world.
I understood the fear they had for me was from a place of their own trauma and not wanting me to struggle like they did when immigrating here.
What does success mean to you?
Success to me means happiness and not fearing failure.
To continue to push for your own desires and to be your genuine self.
Success is being open and kind to others.
Gratitude will change and impact anyone that is around you especially when you are an artist!
Do you find that the pandemic has left a mark on your work?
I can't say that it has left a mark on my work, but it has left a mark on my personal life and the person I am now.
It made me face a lot of what I was running away from during that time.
When I had a lot of downtime during the pandemic to sit with my thoughts.
It made me really face what I was suppressing.
It made me evolve as an artist.
How important has digitalization become for you in connection with your art practice?
Digitalization has become an important part of my art practice.
I use my computer to sketch all my ideas.
I usually use the photoshop tool pad and sketch what I have envisioned in my head for my next paintings.
I do several versions and play with different color placements and the scale of the paintings.
I find that is how I work best to create a piece I admire and not stress before wasting material etc.
Where, how do you usually get inspired?
I usually find inspiration from looking at childhood photos and getting inspiration from being back in my neighborhood where I grew up.
My mother loved documenting everything.
We have albums on albums stacked in a closet in our basement of memories to look through.
I work best alone in the studio blasting music.
I usually go every other day except when it rains then I won’t leave my bed.
What are you working on currently?
Currently I am working on my solo coming up at the end of the year. With the current situation in Ukraine, losing both of my grandparents, I try to use my art as a way to escape.
I want to share that as a woman artist in this industry I've learned a lot since sharing my work.
I learned the hard way how many will take advantage and walk all over you.
Speak up, find your voice, and don't settle.
Portrait images credit:
Images of the artist Nadia Fediv were taken by the Photographer J. Daniel Hud
Untitled Miami November
Solo Show December in Spain more details later in the year.
Follow the artist on Instagram: