Nadia is an artist in Hawaii who sculpts with local tropical hardwoods and mirror glass. She is a self-trained woodworker who aims to use a jigsaw and hand tools to create her pieces the same way an artist uses a paintbrush or pencil.
Nadia earned a BFA in Sculptural Ceramics from Stephen F. Austin State University in east Texas, minoring in Botany and Archeology. After college she worked as an technical illustrator of archeological artifacts, owned a bakery, and taught dance and yoga. She now lives and works on Oahu making art, teaching dance, and meditating.
Carrie: When did you first realize your love of art Nadia?
When I was sitting in a mud puddle as a toddler and realized I could make the mud be whatever I wanted it to be.
Carrie: How would you describe your work?
Creatively functional mirror sculpture.
Carrie: How did you discover your interest in working with mirrors?
Two reasons: (1) I bought a little mirror in Texas that was just magical, a little portal made of roughly hewn wood and mirror glass. (2) My meditation teacher had me practice looking into a mirror to overcome the self-hatred and fear that was consuming me. Eventually I saw what he saw, a beautiful human being with the undying light of the ages shining in her eyes.
My business was birthed.
Carrie: Take us through your process. How do you move from idea or feeling to finished artwork?
Part of what I do is fast production work and in that mode I don’t let myself think I just plunge right in and let the wood show me what it’s supposed to be. I draw the designs, work like a mad woman sanding, routing, cutting glass, finishing the frames so that I can sell as much as I can so the bills can be paid so that I can do it again…improving each time.
With the larger single and unique pieces of art I sand down a big slab of wood knowing it will one day be a mirror. I get into the ocean every day, I absorb the feeling and essence of water, sky, sand, birds, stars, then I go back to the slab and draw the curves and swirls until it looks like what it felt when I felt the wind, waves, birds, all blend together. Then I pray my hands stay steady enough to cut the designs out in one smooth cut. I sand it all down, cut and fit the glass, finish the wood and pray that it looks like what it’s supposed to be!!
Carrie: What does your workspace look like?
Picture an old industrial building, corrugated steel roof on agricultural land, tucked back behind steel fabrication machines. Inside one of the work rooms is a whirlwind of shelves packed with paper, cloth padding to wrap the mirrors in, silicone, rubbing alcohol, tables loaded with half shaped wood slabs, broken glass stacked in one corner (so not safe!), piles of tools and crayons, baby chickens napping on the floor with with mamas.
In the other room my big sanding and shaping tools are surrounded by walls of drying slabs of wood that look like dinosaur bones, spiderwebs loaded with sawdust, and glue, clamps, razor blades scattered over all the benches…then the little rose bush outside and her jasmine vine friend with mama bird making a nest for her babies.
Carrie: What do you hope viewers take away from your work?
The essence that all things are connected.
Carrie: How does your life experience and emotional state feed into your art?
When my body is rested and I eat enough and exercise every day and I meditate daily then I can make massive amounts of product. Ideas flow easily and I do not obsess as much on unnecessary internal dialogue. It is not always a luxury to be that balanced. If I allow my own compulsive thinking and worrying to become the main focus of my day then my art suffers, production diminishes, I get tired faster, and it sucks. There are always specific needs to take care of, always unwanted experiences and drama show up, I get hurt working…but in my heart and my focus is this: I do not want to be another person burdened by obsessive thinking on the planet. The art I make needs to be infused with space and presence, my customers deserve and need that.
Carrie: What’s one piece of advice you have for struggling creatives?
Do not ever stop. Always keep going when you are too tired. Always go one more week after you’ve made the decision to quit. Becoming an artist is a marathon, not a sprint.
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
Those people who do not let personal and cultural dramas get in the way of what they are needed to do on this planet in this lifetime, like Marie Forleo; my Nia Teachers especially Debbie Rosas; my meditation teacher; the man I’m in love with; my close friend Laycie Love.
Carrie: How do you define Creativity?
The pure inherent nature of Homo Sapiens.
Be Courageously Creative: How can you cultivate a practice of self-care that helps you in the marathon of being “artist?” Tell me about it in the comments below.
All of the photos credited to “Brandon Smith Photography”
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