We had the good fortune of connecting with Nela V Steric and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Nela V, can you share a quote or affirmation with us?
My favorite quote is: “Well-behaved women seldom make history”, (Laurel Thatcher Ulrich)

Very often, people, many artists and creatives among us, do not state their own opinions, but chose to politically correct, in fear to be perceived as bad people.

The reasons for it are many, first of it is fear, fear of being hated, commented/bullied, “cancelled”, or, in many parts in the world, killed.
I grew up in the culture and times where women are taught to be quiet, polite, “invisible”, and agreeable with what the cultural, religious or political authorities (usually men) set up. The outspoken people (especially women) are considered “crazy”, “bully”, “promiscuous”, “traitors to their own (political party, nation, religion, family) etc.

It took me years to build my own self-esteem and courage to speak up, or, since I’m a visual artist, present my truths, the truths, and sometimes, not-so-popular facts. As an artist, I believe that we, creative people are the ones that should talk to people from all walks of life, read or hear many narratives, see beneath the gilded, prefabricated, and media-arranged political correctness, see all sides, and state the bottom-line truths as we see it.

As a high school visual art educator, I teach my students the same way.:
“Someone is always going to be offended by you, your looks your talks, your art.
Do you really care so much what they are going to say or do, that you cannot speak your mind any more?”

If you are afraid, your art is not your own any more. In addition, It is not good-it’s-not-bad-it just-is; you feel like you are lying to yourself. I’ve been there.
If you are conforming to the popular beliefs, your art is not sweet, it’s not salty, it’s just disgustingly politically correct; it does not affect anyone; it’s absolutely wonderfully polite, and no one really cares; not even you.

Instead, you would want people to care, to be shook-up, to be awaken by the message that your art delivers. Art is meant to be aesthetically sound, but it’s message is not always pleasant, in fact, it is rarely pleasant. It is meant to show your truth, bold and visible….

Do not be afraid to speak up your mind, but be wise, however, do it in a way that you do not get hurt.

In many parts of the world, art is censored and given variety of boundaries, due to religious or a barbaric nature of the cultures. Even in this day and time, creative people, artists, many women, are persecuted and in fear of death threats; or are killed for presentations of “forbidden” (images, texts, poems).

In the western cultures, where everyone is suppose to be able to speak their truth, at least in theory, for the twenty years, progressively, many books, words, visual media are cancelled, or taken out of the school educational system due to be overly “offending”, so everyone feels good, and it’s all great and there is nothing to discuss about. The idea of art is the idea of exchange of ideas, human communication, discussions, which produce understanding. We see narrowing ideas, censoring arts, and not sharing human narratives equally. Creative people have to fight that tendencies. Art is a freedom of thought.

Be provocative, express yourself, be on point, but be wise. Through history, artists were always walking narrow line with their rulers, dictatorial governments,…

Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez, a Spanish painter, was the the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV of Spain and Portugal, and of the Spanish Golden Age. He managed to show the terrible deformities of king and his children due to close cousins inbreeding that was common with the royals. He presented them in their true looks, but in such way that the king felt flattered and “his head did not roll”. His truth crossed centuries and to this day,
Therefore, be opinionated and point out things that no one wants you to say, but also be wise, artists are wise people.”

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a Yugoslav-born visual artist and an art educator. My paintings:
I am painting in watercolors and acrylic inks on Yupo Paper. My paintings are grouped in several series, that represent different ideas. Series vary from raw, emotional, to thoughtful, almost meditative concepts. I use my own sensibility and combine it with thoughts and events of contemporary nature, such as war, power, love, mostly big ideas. I personally experienced the civil war, and I come from the family that survived WWII. The stories and overall wisdom and narrative from those events crossed decades and filtered my present expression and my truths that I present through my art.

To contrast the often crude subject matters, I use the sleek, new age type of painting surface, Yupo Paper.

The elusive and unpredictable media of water media Yupo Paper effectively follows my ideas of always changing, living spirit.

My decoupage prints:
In my most recent experiments in decoupage medium, I explore the ideas of mental illness and homelessness. Just as in my paintings, I use observation, contemplation, and my recent dealings and experience with a family member, to elevate myself from the reality, and find deeper meaning, aesthetics in those catastrophic human conditions.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love Los Angeles. I grew up on the other side of the globe, watching movies that were made and produced in L.A. areas. Now, often, when I drive by many buildings, city corners, even a line of palms feel like a Deja-vu. I am re-born Angelino. There are so many places that, even after twenty years, I still haven’t visited…. Los Angeles is a world on its own, and it is my home.

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?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to my mother and father, my true heroes.

Website: https://teachergallery.com/

Instagram: @nvsart

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nela-v-9a48479

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