Monday, December 16, 2013


 "The one thing about 'Life' is that it is resilient in the face of death and it desires, and even demands, to be lived."


     At first glance, this painting may seem out of place for the holiday season, but as you unwrap its symbols you will find that it is very timely, and maybe even relevant to where you are right now.
      So, if you are familiar with Fruitless, you see the bleakness of the scene: the gray sky, the broken and decimated trees, and the dark and barren earth. It seems as if what was once productive is now producing nothing. In the foreground the largest tree has been cut down the lowest.
     Christmas tree producers have started cutting down only the top of large tree types used for the season, instead of cutting down whole trees and ravaging an area. The top then grows back quickly, without damaging the tree.
     This tree, however, has been cut down so low that it is a mere stump, and a shadow of its former glory, and even with all of this apparent destruction, there are signs of rebirth. The one thing about Life is that it is resilient in the face of death and it desires, and even demands, to be lived. The clouds hovering above hint at a downpour, and the trees—though broken and battered—stand rooted, ready to grow at the scent of new rain, but what about the main tree? It's only a stump, but the thing is that it still has its roots, and with those roots it has reached out to a source of water and it is being nourished. This speaks to us in a very real way; no matter what we look like on the outside temporarily, we can always come back to life if our roots are being watered. You will notice that the stump, the least likely to produce anything, is already sprouting—it is coming back to life, which brings us to the cardinal.
    Amidst all this gray comes a spark of life, which is the cardinal. The cardinal bares witness to the new life that is springing forth and is the ultimate symbol for that life. It is the harbinger saying: everything here is coming back to life, everything here is being reborn.◊ Tell me how you feel about this particular painting, I look forward to hearing your comments.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Featured Artists & Creators- June

  This feature interview highlights the work of phenomenal artist Katia Zhukova, and goes behind the scenes to discover her journey, process, and what moves her to create what she creates.

   Katia Zhukova describes herself as primarily a self-taught artist with a love of "color, movement, and abstraction." With her use of color and high-contrast, her work produces an energy that simply pulls in the viewer. Through the media of acrylic, graphite, charcoal, and colored pencil, her work conveys a drama that turns the canvas into a stage and invites the viewer to an experience that goes beneath the surface.

                                                                                                interview by:
                                                 millian glenn


 mg: So Katia, a little about yourself, where are you from and how  
        did your journey as an artist begin?


Katia: I was born and spent my childhood in Odessa, Ukraine.
          After living a short time in Europe, I came to Western New  
          York. I had always enjoyed drawing throughout my child
          hood and teenage years, however, I didn't start to take it
          seriously until the end of high-school, when I had to do a
          self-portrait for a required art class.
mg: How did where you're from influence you as an artist    
       growing up? Besides your innate abilities, who or what
       encouraged your creativity early on?
Katia: Not sure about that really… I started competitive figure
           skating at an early age in Odessa, so most of my time was
           spent with sport. I would draw once in a while, but I really
           didn't much think about it till high school. And even then, I
           really didn't take to it much, until I tried my first portrait.
           But once I did, I really couldn't stop :)
mg: The bulk of your work is figurative; what is it about the 
        human form that sparks you as an artist?
Katia: I've had this question posed to me many times before, and I've always struggled somewhat to explain it, but I recently saw a wonderful quote from Oscar Wilde that I think perfectly states what I've been trying to put into words: "Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter." And I think that for me, that is absolutely true. I think that in essence I am painting self portraits in the form of different people.

mg: The "dancer series" in your etsy shop features different types
of dance and movement; what is it about the performing arts that inspire you as a painter?

Katia: With my figure skating background, dance is a very natural inspiration for me, the movement and elegance of dance being very similar to skating. With my Dancer series, I wanted to take the person out of the dance, and focus instead on the pose itself, and on the movement and color, as opposed to the specific dancer herself.                   

mg: Are any of the vibrant characters depicted in your work inspired by real people, or did these images emerge from your imagination?

Katia: Usually, I’m inspired by something or someone I see. When I work with models for portraits, I just try different  poses, and then basically turn up the tension or drama in the image when I paint it. With my Dancer series, I looked for poses that appealed to me, and then took away the person, leaving the pose itself, and then added color, leaving the images almost the opposite of what I usually do; that is, focusing on  everything but the person.

mg: This is a two part question: "Damiana"( pictured at the top) is
        one of my favorite pieces. I love the drama conveyed, as well
        as the emotions lying beneath the surface. What moved you to
        paint this particular piece? What is your favorite piece, if any,
        and why?

Katia: "Damiana" is one on my most polarizing portraits. It’s very
           interesting the various reactions that I get from this
           particular painting. Some people absolutely love it, and it is
           one of my favorite portraits, but other people who see it
           seem to find it quite off-putting, and even vulgar. The
           reference I used for "Damiana" was a lovely picture, but it
           had a very different feel from the finished painting. It was
           very light, and almost ethereal. The finished painting
           became almost the opposite, much darker and somewhat
           gritty. I don’t have any one favorite painting, but there are
           some that feel closer to me than others. "Alexa" is one,
           "Damiana" another, and there are several that are newly
           finished, that I haven't shown yet, that would fit that


mg: Which one of your pieces, to date, have provoked the
greatest response?

Katia: Of the portrait series, I'd
probably say "Alexa". It was the first painting in my current portrait series, and somehow it really seems to appeal to a lot of people. I think the pose of the image really draws people in, and invites them to think of her story.

mg: Have you been able to visit any of the countries or cultures depicted in your work; if so, where have you visited, if not, where would you like to go?

Katia: I did spend some time in Italy, and Austria as a child, and
          of course Ukraine and Russia, but I definitely would like to
          go back to Europe at some point. I'm particularly drawn to
          European architecture and art, especially that of Spain and
          Italy, and would love to spend at least a little time there.

mg: So now, where can we find and purchase your work?

Katia: Directly at my website at: or at my Etsy shop:

mg: Going forward, what subject matter(s) can we expect to see you convey in your work in the near future?

Katia: I’m currently continuing my work on my portrait series. I have a few paintings done already, and a few more that I'm currently working on. I will be putting some of them up on my website and Etsy within the next few weeks.

Self-Portrait: "Door"






















Monday, March 11, 2013

Featured Artists & Creators

This feature interview highlights the work of phenomenal creators and designers, MindHarvest, and goes behind the scenes to discover their journey, their process, and what moves them to create what they create.

MindHarvest T's( and t-shirts are only the beginning) is the brain-child of Anthony and Angelique, a couple which resides in Central Pennsylvania. It's only fitting that this duo of a graphic artist and OB-Gyn would come together to birth such unique, clever,  and culturally-rich designs.

                                                                                           interview by: millian glenn
 Ques.1 So, tell me a little about yourself, where you’re from, how did you get started; is there more than one person behind MindHarvest, and if so, how do you collaborate to execute ideas?

MindHarvest is a collaboration between my fiance and I. It was born out of our desire to expose our son to more culturally diverse products and books.

Anthony is a Graphics designer by profession and he brings all of our ideas to life.

I am an OB-Gyn and I do most of our marketing and logistics. We started dating when we lived in Philadelphia. Upon moving to Central Pennsylvania we quickly discovered the culturally rich environment we were accustomed to had vanished. Our son was now being raised in a less diverse population. Our trips to the library had us returning with books where most of the characters had blond hair.

So we created our own series of children stories for our home enjoyment. The main character in these stories is a caricature of our son. We utilized these stories to teach him to embrace his differences.

Our idea on children's stories quickly evolved to T-shirts... Graphic Tees are in style and we wanted to purchase designs related to things that we were passionate about or at least with characters that had some Afro-centric features. This resulted in the birth of our T-shirt line. Our collaboration works well because we are a couple and we frequently blend our ideas over dinner or during pillow talk.

Ques.2 How did you come up with the name MindHarvest, and what inspires you to create the images seen on your t-shirts. 

There is a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: The ancestor of every action is a thought.
Anthony and I constantly throw around great ideas and we wanted our company name to inspire us to harvest our ideas and make them fruitful. We want the imagery of our t-shirt to evoke positivity and wellness. We draw our inspiration from everything around us.

Ques. 3 Your ideas are very creative and witty, what is it about MindHarvest that you think makes you unique when compared to other t-shirt designers? 

There are two aspects of our designs that make them like no other graphic t-shirt I have ever seen.

- Our shirts are not silk screened, the images are created with
a bleaching method. Each shirt has its marks of individuality
because of the handmade design process.

- Our designs are driven by pushing ourselves creatively and
coming up with novel concepts that make the viewer think. 

Ques.4 In what ways have your t-shirts resonated with people inside, and outside of the African-American demographic? 

Although our store is in its infancy, many people of all cultures have admired our images because of their creative/unique presentation. They are pieces of art that make a statement.
People of color appreciate our work because of the dearth of afrocentric images available in the t-shirt industry. 

Ques.5 What is your favorite t-shirt to date, if any, and why? Which t-shirt has
garnered the greatest response?


My favorite T-shirt is our Superfly shirt, but I am sentimentally biased because the design
inspiration was a picture of my father. 

Anthony's favorite is one of our latest creations: Thrill Seeker 

Cornrow Beauty
Cornrow Beauty has garnered the greatest response in terms of likes. 

Ques.6 Which t-shirt, to date, do you feel is the most thoughtful and provocative--why?

Roots has generated a lot of buzz
and represents that we all have
an ancestry and have a story.

 Ques.7 Before MindHarvest, how did your own personal journey as an artist/creator begin?

We have both always been very creative, Anthony made it his career teaching children to harvest their creativity.
I have always had creative hobbies and the fusion of both of our skill sets has made MindHarvest what it is.

Ques.8 Now, the important question, where can we find and purchase your t-shirts?
All of our t-shirts are available for purchase on Etsy:
Custom designs are also available, simply message us, Twitter: @MindHarvest
Like our Facebook Page:
We can also be reached by e-mail:
Ques.9 What have you learned starting out that you will
take with you forward as a creator/designer?
It is really important to allow time for creativity and inspiration, particularly when you draw a great deal of stimulus from your environment. We have been attentive and not overly distracted with the day to day routines allowing fertile ground for our ideas.
Ques.10 What are your plans and desires for MindHarvest going forward?
We want to continue to bring our ideas to life with our t-shirt
line and polishing our books for general publication.