We got to sit down and talk with Rebecca Volynsky, an incredible artist and youth development advocate based in Rhode Island, about her work and her passions.
What do you do for a living and why is it awesome?
I work as the Executive and Fund Development Associate for Providence ¡CityArts! for Youth in Providence, Rhode Island. ¡CityArts! is a nonprofit youth arts agency, with a mission based on the ideal that all children should have access to arts learning as an essential part of childhood and youth development regardless of socio-economic background. Over 900 youth enroll in ¡CityArts! multidisciplinary arts classes at our South Side arts center on Broad Street, Boys and Girls Club in Fox Point, and in Providence public and charter schools.
My role is to aid our Executive Director in various administrative tasks, help coordinate many of our fundraising activities (including: membership campaigns, end-of-year appeal campaign, Craft Labs, and our annual gala fundraising event), and manage our social media and communications (check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). It is awesome because I get to practice many of my professional skills in one place, tackle difficult challenges and tasks (in a good way), work with inspiring female leaders, and help raise funds for a cause that I am immensely passionate about.
I am also a practicing artist and create artwork on a regular basis. That is the foundation of who I am – personally and professionally.
How are your pieces informed by your life experiences? What themes do your pieces generally follow?
Over the years, developing and sustaining a creative practice has allowed me to build trust within myself, fully express my voice, and let go of my anxieties through experimenting and making mistakes. The themes and symbolic elements in my work revolve around the ideas of strength, personal growth, mental health, the female voice, community, and the beautiful environments that surround us. I am very much influenced by Russian folk art and icon paintings, textile design, lively color, organic shapes found in nature, heartache, laughter, and my personal growth.
My work reflects my life experiences because I often think about what is happening in my life as I am making artwork. Lately, a lot of that is about paying attention to the ways I’ve been working and taking care of myself. I meditate and think of how I can cultivate what I have in the present moment to make the most of my future, personally and professionally, as I create artwork.
What are your hopes for your future and the future of art education and art therapy?
Letting go while creating artwork is similar to the sense of letting go while practicing yoga. Our deepest emotions and struggles become clearer to us, which sometimes might leave us in a vulnerable state. This space that we create while meditating during the creative process (also called “working in the zone”) or in the middle of a yoga pose can gives us an opportunity to reflect on our internal struggles and the world around us.
I personally hope that educators and non-profit art organizations continue to see the importance of the intrinsic and therapeutic aspects of art making while the field continues to evolve.
What advice would you give for other women who wish they had more time for art?
I work full-time and don’t always feel like I have time to work on a solid piece of artwork at the end of the day. I have to block out time in my schedule solely dedicated to art making, which typically happens late at night or on the weekends.
However, I try to remember how good it feels to just make a simple mark on a page. Adult coloring books are all the rage right now, which I think is awesome. There is always time to zone out and make a doodle. You never know if a small pattern or sketch may inspire a new painting. These days, everyone is busy. What we need to think about is how to create space in our day to day to feel present…and I think that creating artwork and doodling is a great way to do that.