*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below.
Q and A with Ioana, Cluj, Romania
“What I would like everyone to know and apply is passion! Find something that you love doing and go for it. Take time for it, show what you do to other people, involve your loved ones in your passion. Whenever you feel completely disappointed, desperate, and that life is completely pointless, turn to that color or canvas, pot or music, or whatever makes you feel joy.”
Q: What are you passionate about?
A: Since I was very little, I loved playing with stones, rocks, mud, wood, and pretty much anything I could find on the ground of my parents’ garden. When I was about 12, my parents introduced me to a well-known visual artist here in Cluj, a sculptor.
From that moment on, I started creating carved pieces out of stone, wood, clay, resin, bronze, and many other materials. This began as a childhood hobby but soon became a lifelong dream and career. I applied to the arts high school, followed by arts university, then a master’s degree in cultural management and then another master’s degree at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Brussels.
I traveled a lot, this being one of my greatest passions in life—discovering new places and cultures and becoming inspired by other ways of living. Through many of these travels, I also organized exhibitions, cultural events, theater and performance events in countries such as Morocco, Armenia, Belgium, France, Spain, Sweden, and I also made a lot of friends everywhere. All of these experiences have shaped me, both as an artist and as a human being.
Pictured: Art by Ioana.
Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know?
A: None of it was easy. Each time I left, moved, traveled, I did it alone. I enjoyed traveling alone because this allowed me to discover the world in a very personal way. I lived in France for one year, didn’t speak the language very well, and didn’t know anyone in the city I moved to. It was very hard at times, and I wanted to come back home more times than I can count, but slowly, I learned the language, started meeting people, people began interacting with my art, and so, by the end of my stay there, I had an exhibition, friends, and a new language under my belt.
Armenia was another challenge, as I went there in an Artist in Residence program (AIR), without any idea of what to expect. My great-grandmother was Armenian, and I had this strong desire to visit the place I also had roots in. At that time, I was still working on war-themed art pieces and was deeply inspired by the history of Armenian people, both during the genocide in 1915 and the more recent one committed by Azerbaijan in 1988. I had this drive to show people what has happened before in our history because I believed that this could change mentalities and ensure a better present and future for people. I was quite rebellious and hardheaded in regards to my beliefs.
When I came back from Belgium, where I got my master’s degree in sculpture, I was 25. At that time, I started craving order and responsibility in my life, so, because I was surrounded by doctors in my family, I started working in an oncology clinic as a manager. One year later, I started working at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy here in Cluj, and by the time I was 27, I had two jobs, no creative time, and a big hole in my life. I missed the sculpture and the arts. I missed my years of creative events organizing, so I started, slowly but surely, infiltrating my creative side into the business part of my life. I started designing posters and commercials for the institutions I worked in, developing promotion campaigns, and started making soap to giveaway to our oncology patients.
Soap making was actually the moment of my awakening—as I was quite numb since I returned to my country. The colors, the essential oils…it’s a true therapy, this soap making activity. After that, I started making jewelry and slowly grew back my inspiration for sculpture. As I moved to a new house with a tiny garden, I rediscovered my love for gardening as well, and this became one of my biggest passions. Growing plants! And landscape design. This month I decided to start growing a vegetable garden for my family and am constantly reading about seeds, soil, and getting inspiration on landscape architecture sites. I guess I get this from my mother, who is a professor in landscape architecture and my grandfather who was a phytopathologist (doctor in plant disease).
Pictured: Hand-crafted, natural soap by Ioana.
At the moment, I still work two jobs, but when I get home in the evening, I create something. This is my goal every day, whether it’s a silver ring, 20 soaps, or just transplanting plants, every day is a creation day! My dream is to be able to quit all jobs and only focus on my passion: art! So, I have these 3 things as creative pillars: sculpture, soap-making, and gardens. And the one thing I was lacking also arrived in my life, once I regained trust in myself and my creative side, my boyfriend.
What I would like everyone to know and apply is passion! Find something that you love doing and go for it. Take time for it, show what you do to other people, involve your loved ones in your passion. Whenever you feel completely disappointed, desperate, and that life is completely pointless, turn to that color or canvas, pot or music, or whatever makes you feel joy.
Have faith in yourself. Also very important: Will is a self-training thing–if you don’t stimulate yourself, you won’t pursue your goals, so find things that stimulate you! Be it that one extra like on Facebook, a kind word from your partner, or selling one of your crafts at a fair, just do it! Be brave!
Q: What does feminism mean to you?
A: If we ask ourselves, “Is feminism important?” Just check this little historical fact: Women in Switzerland gained the right to vote in federal elections after a referendum in February 1971.
1971! One of the “most civilized” countries in the world!
So, what does feminism stand for? I believe that if we were not forced to live in a world ruled by men, in which we were treated as subhuman, pets, or worse, we would not have been obliged to react. Feminism is a reaction to oppression, demanding equality in rights, equality in perception, and equality in labor. This is what it means to me:
a necessary movement and attitude in the 21st century.
Connect with me! I’d love to chat with you!
Ioana & My Lilianas would love to hear from you! Comment below!