Celebrating Joy Through Art with Mina from EWBA
Neighborhood Washington, DC art always grabs my attention. Nationally, DC is visually portrayed with grand photos of recognizable monuments almost exclusively. Don’t get me wrong, I never get tired of the beauty on the National Mall, but I don’t want the creativity and color of our many neighborhoods to get lost.
So, when I started seeing Mina’s colorful DC art at local festivals, I was immediately drawn to it. She captures the beauty and vibe of many of our city’s neighborhoods with her unique photography and use of color. I was thrilled to be able to interview her and share more of her story.
A Tale of Two Cities
Mina’s art career grew from her time in two cities: New York City and Washington, DC.
After growing up in Northern Virginia and attending college at the University of Virginia, she felt called to New York City to begin her creative career.
“New York City has this poetic promise that lures creatives,” she tells me when I ask what inspired her to move. “It wasn’t my home, but I wanted to spend time there to learn and grow.”
While in New York, Mina reconnected with the love of her life: a wildlife researcher in Alaska. “His experiences enchanted me,” she tells me. They both had family in DC which was part of their decision to return to the area.
She says the city life feels like “The Big Buffet of Life.” People are drawn to city life to see the millions of different identities of the people who live there. Mina loved the ability to experience so many different kinds of people in New York and Washington, DC as she was growing into her adult life.
For about 4 years, they built a life together near H Street and Mina continued the creative work she started in New York City. While in Brooklyn, Mina sold her art on the streets. She loved the energy of New York but tells me she appreciates the more structured art market of DC. In DC, she is able to sell her art at venues with more reliable foot traffic like Eastern Market and at food festivals. Mina also featured her art at her shop along the Arts Walk in Brookland. The space has been closed due to COVID-19 but she hopes to reopen as soon as she can.
Mina reflects that both the New York and DC markets require a lot of work and creating art in a small living space. Two years ago, after a lot of busy city life, she and her partner decided it was time for another change.
Pictured above: Mina’s photos of a sample of her art.
The Call of Nature
For the past two years, Mina and her partner have lived in Maryland on a 14-acre animal sanctuary with sheep and chickens. She did not set out to live on a farm but when she and her partner found the property, they knew it was something special. It was time to escape the busy city and have more space to work on her art.
The land features a beautiful house and 150 acres of woods surrounding their home. The property is occasionally available as a farm-stay vacation rental and in the warmer seasons, guests can find glamping style tents open for weekends under the stars.
“I want people to feel true relaxation when they visit,” Mina tells us. “The kind where your inner chaos settles down and you can feel the great trust of the energy around you.”
She hopes her rental can be a place for people to gather safely and have meaningful time together in nature. She explains there is something very special about connecting with ancient practices like being among wildlife, sitting around a fire, and enjoying a home-cooked meal that you worked hard on. Mina hopes her rental will help people escape the city to reconnect with these experiences without too far of a drive.
Connection in the Time of COVID-19
“We have to keep taking walks outside even though it’s getting cold,” Mina tells me when we reflect on 2020. She comments that walks outside in the city were always a wonderful way for her to feel connected with people. “It’s a huge magic of urban living that I miss dearly. But a big part of my life at the new house is the ability to connect with nature and be outside.” Whether you call the city, suburbs, or country home, Mina hopes people don’t lose time outside just because it’s winter.
Mina also comments that COVID-19 means there are fewer festivals and open markets for selling art this year. But focusing on selling her art online has been going well. “There is an insatiable need to share what one creates,” Mina says, describing what keeps her motivated during the pandemic. She and her partner have worked so hard on this art and she wants to keep sharing it.
That said, she is excited to be back at festivals and markets. “There is no greater joy than to see the happiness art brings in person,” she says.
Mina tells me she is allowing herself to play with color more in her current work. She starts paintings with a freedom of not deciding what they are going to be at all. “It’s like improv music,” she describes, “I let myself feel what colors should come next.”