We had the good fortune of connecting with Dina Lockridge Vetri and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dina, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
I think about this often and am in constant practice to master this. Not master in any form of perfection but my ultimate definition and goal of balance is based on feeling that the archetype of mother and artist within me are fulfilled and nourished. Before I had children, I was that eccentric artist that would stay up until 3am just creating and painting. Coming from NYC, I would stay out with my friends going to late night exhibits and then all gathering and creating either alone or together. After I had my two daughters, (my eldest just turned 10 years old and my little one is 7 years old), everything in my life shifted as I expected. No one can quite prepare you for the changes from the obvious and ordinary of time and sense of urgency constraints but as an artist you’re so used to giving your love and attention to dreamlike thought, for me this was through my studied symbolism that is then launched into the canvas with color or a photoshoot collaboration — hours dedicating myself to theory and practice. Order and discipline come after an inspiration is envisioned whereas with being a mother, you are so immediately present, the necessary physical and emotional needs of my gorgeous babies consume me. I had to learn true maturity in the sense that when you are young and free you just float and fly on dreams; you are at the beck and call of desire. I’m not saying that it was easy, or I was irresponsible, I’ve been working since I was 12 years old, sometimes three jobs at a time, but even in that self-reliance and self-responsibility and yes, it was stressful many times, there was an ease which comes from freedom of detachment to others, to know you are the only one you are responsible for. There is no more beautiful attachment that mothering for me. It is so inherently altruistic that whether you’re ready or not you learn to give yourself away, how one embraces this is their own, but it has taken me years and I’m still in active process in making my priority that their needs and dreams are met while honoring and tending to my own. Two pieces of advice changed my life before I had children. The first from my best friend whom I lovingly referring to as Wonder Woman. She received her PhD at twenty-four years old with two children age 2 and under. She is feminist professor and always said to me, having her son and daughter see her follow her dream is the best example she could ever give to them. That her work makes her a better woman and mother. The other is from another wildly eccentric artist friend who has one daughter that is older now and she told me as she saw me exhausted in the battle between my creativity and coddling my toddlers in tears at times from the pull of inner chaos to find my balance of art and mothering, said to me to wait until my little one turns seven. She told me my life will become mine again, that it will once again feel familiar to who I was before I birthed. Loving symbolism the way I do, I trusted and waited, and she was right. This year I came back to myself in a new way. I believe we’re all striving for balance, it’s so very challenging when you’re just trying to survive, the light flickers and goes out a bit at times, but as you grow and your path opens and you trust in your ability to adapt to this great amazing adventure called life, you learn through wisdom to acquiesce to the inevitable changes of unbridled freedom in youth to the sweet responsibility in nurturing and nourishing all of those archetypes within you, for me, this is woman, mother, wife, best friend, sister, and daughter. I’ve always believed as an artist you have to create yourself your first masterpiece –self-love, compassion, philanthropy and then your dreams have a foundation to manifest. My daughters will forever be my greatest masterpieces. They are free, kind, loving, creative, smart, responsible, compassionate, and joyful. Words I use to describe my art as well. I’ve learned that art can infuse every aspect of life, in fact it’s a way of life and while I pursue my dreams, I constantly remind myself it truly is the journey not the destination that matters most.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Thank you so much! My art is a reflection from my love of form, color, and femininity. I work with two mediums, photography and canvas. My abstract art is created on large scale. When I create on canvas, I find colors that ignite my vision and I play a song on repeat until it is finished. I feel this creates an emotional consistency. It’s as if the shapes and strokes dance to the sounds that inspire me. My blending of photography and fine art began at a young age. I wanted a way to marry my two loves, hand painting and photography. It begins with collaborating with my muses for a photoshoot. I then print them large scale (usually 36 x 48”) on archival photography paper in black and white and I hand color them. This is so satisfying and exciting for me as it takes my love of photography and painting and allows me to infuse the images with the colors I envision. Studying is an intricate part of my creativity. I study art theory and symbolism so there is an intellectual stimulation for me but I’m very careful not to let the rules of others dictate my art. I tend to stray from rigid art theory, instead trusting my intuition into the feeling of a creation for me. I like to go beyond the expected and engage the beholder with an emotion of escape and beauty.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live in Topanga Canyon, a beautiful part of Southern California. While I live in the mountains, I am a twelve-minute drive to the sea, so I would start here. My friends often joke that my home is like a Palm Springs resort. I have a mid-century modern home nestled in the mountains and I’ve created every room and my backyard to feel as if I’m on vacation. It’s cozy and comforting and I live outside most days. My home is certainly my sanctuary and I am so grateful to live in such a beautiful area. My second favorite place is Santa Barbara. Before the pandemic I was up there at least once or twice a month. There is so much to do from heading to the beach to art galleries to lovely restaurants, so I would definitely show them my favorite spots. Ojai is another amazing destination. My best friends have a gorgeous cabin nestled in Matilija Canyon and I spend most holidays there, traveling to the hot springs and cooking outside with a breathtaking landscape of mountain vistas. I camp a lot too so I would definitely head to Joshua Tree. My favorite escape is packing up my gear and heading off up the coast to Big Sur, stopping along the way at the best scenic spots. California is so amazing in the sense that in any direction you go you can have such a diverse experience from mountains to oceans, deserts, and snow. I love that I can call this home and I love sharing all the special spots I’ve discovered from my fifteen years living here.
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?
Success for me is the succession of supportive and inspiring souls whose paths have crossed mine. First and foremost was my grandmother. She was so joyful, creative, and nurturing. She gave me my first camera at three-years-old and I haven’t stopped photographing since. She encouraged any art form I had passion for and inspired me to be ambitious in my dreams. I lost her two years ago and my art has a new powerful feeling infused within it which I believe is fueled by not only my grief but unbridled passion to pursue my dreams in memory of her and honor this extraordinary gift she gave me throughout my life. The other soul that changed my life is my husband, Adam. From the day I met him over ten years ago he has supported my every effort in the dreams and practice of my art. His love, his joy, his own creativity as a director of television and how he tells a story visually inspires my own art. We have two beautiful daughters, and even though he travels often and works arduous days at work he makes sure I have as much time to create as possible. His love and belief in my artistic ability keeps my fire burning to create. I am so grateful.