We had the good fortune of connecting with Ina Bochian and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ina, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Writing and painting have been part of my life since I was 7 years old, when my parents moved from formerly Communist Romania to America to provide an environment where we could freely practice our faith. For my parents to be able to bring me over, they first had to establish themselves in America and then apply for me to get the proper visa to join them. For 3 years, I had to relocate from the capital where I was born, Bucharest, to a small village with my grandparents and aunts and uncles. During that time, between the ages of 7 and 10, I waited. After many prayers, letters to Congressmen and Senators in the United States, my grandpa, who was an evangelist, brought me to America. The night before my visa was granted, he prayed without ceasing on the steps of the US Embassy in Bucharest. Before I got my miracle, during my 3 year wait, I started painting and writing because I was sending my parents letters and drawings. I was also sewing clothes for dolls and drawing designs. As a child I wanted to be a fashion designer. However, I went to college for Psychology, English, and Criminal Justice because my parents encouraged me to be more practical. Then, a life tragedy sent me into another direction and I randomly started working in Film and TV. My purpose became clear after I went to New York to ask James Franco’s advice about school and life. James encouraged me to use my art to heal after listening to the trauma I experienced. When I came back to Chicago, I started dedicating myself to my art and writing. Over the years, James has always inspired and encouraged me because he is a genius artist who used storytelling to navigate different mediums, even when he is misunderstood. His fearlessness served as a guide for me to use all types of mediums to tell my story and now I published a book called “I Am Just Enough Faith: Fighting Terror With Faith” and an apparel brand called Just Enough Faith. The idea behind my brand is that you need just enough faith to achieve your goals regardless of how dark your lowest low is. I experienced a lot of bullying and still experience some now as an adult, which is even more of a reason to speak up. My faith and people who encouraged me in my pursuit as an artist, like my family and James, are the reasons why I am pursuing a creative career.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve been painting and writing since I was 7, but at some point, after I was reunited with my parents in America I found out our ancestors are Jewish. I was already quite connected to my faith, but I wanted to explore and connect with my history. I started learning how to paint Hebrew letters and simple words like Love, Hope, Faith and Peace. The happiness I felt connecting to the Hebrew language transcends my own understanding and felt quite sacred, like a conversation with God through my art. When I experienced my most painful trauma due to sexual assault, I needed to connect to my art again and believe in my purpose. I turned to my faith and found hope in the fact that my birthday 7/18 means “complete life.” The number 7 in Hebrew means “complete” and 18, which is Chai, means “life”. I created work around this theme as I was looking for meaning. When I met James Franco, I shared some of this with him and he encouraged me to keep using my art to move forward in life. Right before meeting James, I had stopped painting due to depression, but his advice led me to pick up my paintbrush again. Over time, as I found strength through my art, my faith, and my studying the history of my Jewsih ancestors, I started to heal. Reading about the oppression of Jewds and the Bible a lot helped me when I experienced severe cyberbullying because I understood that God uses adversity to create opportunities. I decided to do a 40 day fast because I wanted God to fight my enemies for me. During that fast, my book, “I Am Just Enough Faith: Fighting Terror With Faith” was born. I wrote 40 poems in 40 days and eventually turned this poetry into a book. About a year later, during quarantine, with help from motivational speaker Dr. Eric Thomas, my friend April McCalla (who is also a business owner), and Jaymie Jordan, I filed the paperwork for my LLC and officially started my brand, Just Enough Faith. The pain I experienced going through the process had a lot of dark moments, but out of tragedy I was able to transform grief into victory. Some of the recent bullying included death threats, which I feel were an attempt to silence my voice in regards to my faith, my ethnic background and speaking unpopular truths.
Those who bullied me from fake accounts made fun of my looks, “Jewish nose,” Romanian background, weight, voice, and even created accounts impersonating me to slander me. For this reason, I surrounded myself with positive people and decided to speak even louder about my identity and beliefs. Had my faith not been attacked, maybe I would have called my company something else, but I dedicated my work to God and allowed God to open the doors He wants for me. I allowed Him to deal with all who put me down. My company and my creative work serve the purpose to encourage others to be fearless and have “just enough faith” to be bold. I am still uncomfortable sharing my story. I am uncomfortable making videos on my Instagram in fear of bullies, but I also realized the message is not about me. I know other people suffer from insecurity and I want to do my best to encourage them with the tools I have been given. I also changed my Instagram name to 3 Bible verses and prayed that whoever comes to my page will feel God’s presence. My IG name is Romans8.28 and my IG handle is @genesis12.3_isaiah54.17. I was anxious being so vocal about my faith, but I trust God will use “all things for my good”, “bless those who bless me and curse those who curse me”, while making sure “no weapon used against me shall prosper”. I believe words are powerful and the Bible and Word of God inspired by the Holy Spirt. Therefore, I am not ashamed of my Christian Faith, Jewish ancestry and Romanian heritage. I use my platform, my company, and my art to show people that it’s OK to be scared while moving forward with faith. The best lessons I learned through this process are: 1. God is always in control 2. When I allow myself to be His instrument, God is the greatest artist who directs me towards the greatest art fulfilling His plan. I do not separate my faith from my work. I am who I am and I refuse to be ashamed of how God made me. I hope this message serves as encouragement for anyone looking for purpose.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I live right outside of Chicago. If my best friend came to visit, I would most likely take them to the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and art galleries in the area. If theaters were open, I would probably take them to the Steppenwolf theater because I am part of the associate board and support the theater. We would most likely grab something light at the Front Bar, but I’m not a drinker so it would have to be coffee or tea. Depending on the time of year, I would suggest we take a walk around Millenium Park and take a lot of pictures with the architecture and by Lake Michigan. Besides great art and architecture, I would probably talk about some of our great hip hop artists like Kanye West and Chance the Rapper, whose music would be playing in my car. My sister and her husband are also very fun and I would most likely suggest we meet up with them, along with some of my Steppenwolf theatre friends and actor friends I’ve worked with on Empire. I love connecting people to others and finding new ways to introduce people to ideas and communities. One other thing I would do is suggest we volunteer in Englewood with an organization called Social Change and meet up with Kacy Rush, who is an inspirational social activist. Social Change has been helping distribute food to areas affected by the pandemic and also responsible for community activism. Philanthropy is a big part of my life and I consistently raise awareness about social causes and mental health for other organizations, like Hope for the Day (Suicide Prevention) and HFC (Alzheimer’s and Dementia). My free time is used to contribute to society and I would like to surround myself with those who are like minded. Therefore, I would absolutely include public service and charity in a “fun weekend” because there is nothing more fun than bringing joy to people with a friend by my side.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
James Franco deserves a lot of recognition in my story. James was one of the first people to encourage me to pursue my art and read my work before anyone else even looked at it. He was there for me when other people bullied me and made me feel valuable as an artist who uses art to express faith. When others made me feel worthless, James told me to keep going and show the world I am serious about my art. His words carried a lot of weight, along with the support of my family and God behind the scenes cheering me on. Apart from God, I can do nothing, but I believe God brought the right people into my life to help me live out His purpose to help others. My parents instilled a lot of values in me which laid the foundation for my creative process and how I live out my faith.
My art, as an expression of God’s grace, tells a story of my relationship with God and shares my love story with the world. This story includes grace for others and people who the world sees through distorted eyes due to their misrepresentation in the media, like James Franco. When God’s light shines through, we can see a man who showed me grace when I felt like a nobody. Yet, he was like one of God’s angels who helped me get back on the right path. Had God not used James to bring me out of despair, I might still be struggling to understand my pain is part of God’s storytelling. We search for God and He’s always there, but when we are lost He works through people. If the world saw some of the people God uses through his vision, their own eyes would flood with tears. Never judge anyone by what you see or hear because you never know what role that individual plays in God’s universe. For me, God uses James Franco to direct me towards my most fulfilling role, which is to be God’s instrument. He saw me when everyone else was blind and I will bring to light the good he has done because I believe he saved my life when no other human could reach me. The world is blessed to have such a profound soul.
Linkedin: Ina Artistaina
Facebook: I Am Just Enough Faith
Other: My book, “I Am Just Enough Faith: Fighting Terror With Faith” is available digitally from Apple Books, Barnes and Noble & other digital book sellers & in the link to my brand Instagram: @justenoughfaithLLC https://books2read.com/b/49QBqY