Thank you Barnes Foundation for inspiring me to keep going!

Anxiety washed over me as I rushed from room to room. It was overwhelming, realizing how much there was to discover. I found myself wondering, can I possibly take it all in?

How can it be that there are thousands of paintings on the walls and each one is my favorite? I was astonished by the artistic greatness that surrounded me—greatness that I had spent my whole life admiring from a distance. Now I was face to face with these masterpieces, and I wanted to know everything about each one. But is one life enough?

My mind was racing, I thought how amazing it would be to just move in at the Barnes, to see and draw inspiration from these works of art every day. And then I saw her. . . the beautiful girl with fiery red hair, sitting on a chair and wearing a black evening dress. My heart stopped, tears streamed down my face, and all I could do was stare. It was there that I found an incredible sense of peace and home. I just had to remind myself to breathe.


I first knew that I wanted to be an artist when I was 5 years old. My first art memory is a vision of welcoming guests into a gallery exhibiting my work.

I was born in Moscow (at that time, the Soviet Union) and immigrated to the United States with my family in 1997. We settled in Philadelphia. After studying graphic design, I moved to New York City to work in the fashion industry. Through the years, I never stopped painting. I kept paintbrushes in the fridge, canvases under the bed, and paints on the dinner table in my tiny studio apartment. If I wasn’t making art, I didn’t feel right.

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In early 2015 I decided that I just can’t not paint anymore, and I transitioned to pursuing art full-time.

It has been a rollercoaster year, with exciting highs and discouraging lows, but I am doing it! I am living my dream and doing what I love every day.


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Upon moving to Montreal, I couldn’t help but include in my paintings the orange traffic cones that appeared everywhere in the beautiful city.

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Eventually sketches turned into paintings, and paintings turned into an exhibition. In August 2015, the dream—the wish that always seemed out of reach—came true. I finally exhibited my work in a gallery and welcomed guests to see my art.

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A few days after the opening, I was invited to be on Breakfast Television Montreal. The following week, I was interviewed on CJAD Montreal, a morning radio show.

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OLYA KRASAVINA STUDIO