“KREWE DES FEMMES” COLLECTION
This series Krewe des Femmes is a celebration of talented, hardworking, and inspirational women I met while living in New Orleans. My goal was to portray my subjects as complex on the outside as they are on the inside. I use heavy, confident brushstrokes and combine pastel and vibrant colors to create a striking contrast. These colorful expressions are highly influenced by my life in New Orleans. I am constantly inspired by the beautiful colors of the city’s architecture, culture and carnivals. The name of the series is inspired by female Mardi Gras krewes. In this collection, I apply layers of spray paint, oil and acrylics, along with different 3D elements in order to make every piece as unique as the women I portray.
My continuing exploration of reflective surfaces is expressed through the incorporation of gold leaf, holographic paper, and reversible sequin fabric into the paintings. This interest in reflective surfaces stems from my childhood in Russia admiring lavishly gilded interiors of churches and museums. Looking up at the mysterious golden worlds inside the reflections, I admired the ephemeral play between the surfaces and objects around them. My use of these surfaces creates artworks that reflect their surroundings just as we are reflections of our environment.
I first met Cooper after her husband commissioned a portrait of their beloved dog who had passed away. When they came to my studio to pick up the portrait they were really touched. Cooper started crying and I couldn’t hold back my tears either! I’ve started following her on Instagram and became more and more inspired by her. Cooper is a professional bodybuilder. Bodybuilding is so incredibly hard but the way she motivates people through sharing her experience is game changing. I love that she shares her secrets and I feel like that is something that we should do more often in this world to help each other find our own success. Cooper inspired me to start working out more since I usually just stand or sit while painting all day. Surprisingly, I have even more energy for creating art after working out. It is amazing how small connections like this one change people’s lives!
I knew I wanted to paint Fammy the first time I saw her striking features on her Instagram page. As I got to know her better, I was amazed by her accomplishments and selflessness. Fammy has a special genius for organizing charity events and generating creative ideas. I painted a beautiful fleur de lis crown on her since she’s our Miss Louisiana. The pink and white roses symbolize her femininity and elegance. I could not resist including the Chanel earrings because she’s such a fashionista! I’m happy that our paths crossed while in New Orleans and I can’t wait to watch her new ideas and projects come to life!
I met Nicole at a charity fundraiser for domestic violence survivors. She struck me as a passionate business woman with a giving heart and the sweetest disposition. Nicole now divides her time between her New Orleans roots and her other happy place in Destin, Florida (where me and my fiancé got engaged!). I made these beautiful hibiscus flowers to symbolize that tropical Florida connection. Nicole can accomplish anything she puts her mind to, and will persevere until she conquers whatever challenge she takes on. I love that spirit and I want every woman to be as confidant and strong!
The Songbird of New Orleans. Robin is the sunniest woman with the most beautiful voice. It’s impossible to be sad around her because she lights people up with her energy and her beautiful soul. I couldn’t leave New Orleans without painting my favorite Nola musician. One rainy weekend day we got coffee and started discussing the struggle of making it as an artist. I was amazed by her ability to confront adversity so courageously and even be made stronger by it. Her fierce spirit inspired me to never compromise on my artistic dreams and made me realize that I was not alone on this journey.
I met Autumn one day while shopping at a grocery store. Something clicked in my head when I saw her. You never know where inspiration will strike! It was my first time asking a stranger to pose for a painting. I was worried that I would seem creepy or awkward, but I mustered up the courage and she was very excited! Autumn is a fellow aspiring artist and I found her to be an incredibly sweet and interesting person. She changes her hair style and color like gloves which blows my mind. She showed up for the photoshoot with her hair dyed turquoise – my favorite color! I look forward to working with her on future collaborative projects.
Countless dogs have been rescued from kill shelters and found loving homes thanks to this woman. She was one of the first people I met after moving to New Orleans and she touched my life in a very special way. I had never seen a dog park before and drove out to City Park to see what it looked like. There I met the fabulously stylish Monique, who was representing the pet rescue she founded – “Take Paws”. I had always wanted to volunteer for a pet rescue but it was impossible in Russia so my excitement was over the top. As I got to know Monique I was inspired by her mission, dedication, hard work and endless love for animals. Since founding the rescue in 2015 she’s saved over 3500 dogs!
I was so thrilled to help the rescue by taking pictures and fostering pups. Fostering dogs made my life so much brighter and happier and I can’t thank her enough. Helping these sweet dogs find forever homes has been so fulfilling. My painting days at the studio were filled with love and happiness thanks to Monique and her wonderful rescue.
I don’t know how Tamica manages to succeed at so many things in life but I hope I’ll be able to do it like her one day! I’m amazed by Tamica managing her business, career and family while I’m already overwhelmed by my business alone. She has a gorgeous unique look that I thought a hibiscus flower would complement really well! She’s always so full of light and energy. Public speaking is something I struggle with and Tamica has inspired me to put myself out there more. Tamica is a Co-Host of “News With A Twist” at WGNOTV and every time I watch it I’m hoping that someday I’ll be as confidant, relaxed and funny when I’m on camera!
Tracee Dundas is the founder and creative director of New Orleans Fashion Week. I met Tracee at a charity photoshoot for a pet rescue calendar where she was the model and I was the photographer. I was struck by her confidence and poise. I started following her closely on social media and became influenced by her advice, style and self-assurance. Tracee inspired me to try myself out in the fashion industry and start designing dresses. Though I was not able to participate in this year’s fashion week, I am happy the process has begun. I am going to design my own fabric and dresses and I can’t wait to see the outcome – stay tuned!
I painted her hair in a royal blue/ultramarine color because it radiates confidence, freedom, and wisdom. The decorative peacock earring compliments this and further symbolizes her beauty and vision.
The first time I saw Ashley Longshore was on TV while I was still in Russia. A local travel show visited her studio in New Orleans and I remember it being quite shocking for them. I thought about what a badass woman she was and how awesome it was that everything was colorful and covered in glitter and other shiny things. I didn’t know much about New Orleans back then and of course had no idea I was going to move here. After opening an issue of The Scout Guide and seeing her picture, everything came together. I painted Ashley because thanks to her I was brave enough to experiment and find my style that I’m obsessed with. I was so used to following the strict rules I learned at my academy that I completely forgot about finding my own way of self-expression and uniqueness. I love the way she inspires women to be strong, independent and optimistic through sharing her story. We need that. I believe inspiration is contagious and I hope through my work I will spread this same positivity and encouragement that I learned from Ashley!