Knowledge Gathered From Hands-on Work Is Much More Honest, Practical and Relevant - Marina Savashynskaya Dunbar


Inspiration comes for me from everywhere, sometimes from the natural world, sometimes from the interaction of colour.

1. Tell us more about your background and journey.

I was born in Minsk, Belarus and I moved to the United States when I was 9 years old. I always had a passion for creating and I started to focus specifically on painting when I was in high school. I experimented with oil, acrylic and watercolour during my first years in college. 

Then, I took a ceramic sculpture class and it broadened my perspective in relationship to painting. I began thinking of painting in three dimensions, instead of two. As I experimented with different media, I grew to learn that my interests lie in process and the balance between control and spontaneity. 

I worked as a waitress while I was in school and later I met two professional artists (husband and wife) and began to work for them as their studio manager. This position gave me access and knowledge about the art world which I didn’t find in school and the experience instrumental to my practice today. 


2. Who is your favourite artist and why?

I have a lot of favourite artists and I am constantly discovering new ones so it’s hard to pinpoint one but these are a few of my favourites: Mary Weatherford, Alyson Shotz, Matthew Wong, Katharina Grosse and Paul Jenkins. 

I am interested in artists who push the boundary of their material and invent their own visual vocabulary. 


3. Is it a financially stable career?

Yes. Art is a very lucrative industry but it requires interest and knack for business which artists often lack. Practical aspects of maintaining a successful art career are not taught in school. 

Art schools endorse a romantic myth that art is not a capitalist industry when in reality it is one of the most robust examples of capitalism in practice. 


4. Where do you get inspired to create art?

Inspiration comes for me from everywhere, sometimes from the natural world, sometimes from the interaction of colour. I think being an artist means being open and sensitive to your surroundings which allows inspiration to come in freely rather than seeking it.


5. What kind of book do you prefer to read?

I prefer biographies about specific people as well as fiction novels. I am currently reading Ninth Street Women by Mary Gabriel. In regards to fiction, I enjoy Dan Brown and Gillian Flynn to name a few. I find a lot of compelling parallels between abstract painting and fiction writing. 


6. What piece of advice would you like to give to the future aspirants?

My best advice is to seek as much real-world experience as possible. In my opinion, knowledge gathered from hand-on work is much more honest, practical and relevant. For aspiring artists, I would recommend finding work under an artist you admire or an internship at a gallery or museum.


Marina Savashynskaya Dunbar - Artist

Interview by - Pallavi Surana

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