Open studios at MANA Contemporary.

Yesterday, on September 14th of 2014, I had an amazing day. The reason is that I had my studio at MANA Contemporary open. Starting this September I am at the studio residency program at ESKFF (Eileen S. Kaminsky Family Foundation). I will be working here for 3 months, during which I am planing to complete a set of artworks with implemented interactive electronics. You can see some of the walls already and even play with them, activating different sensors and watching the artwork change. Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 1.40.28 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 1.39.28 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 1.39.50 PM If you would like to visit my studio at MANA Contemporary, just let me know when and I will give you a little tour around the place.         Twice a year MANA opens its studios for everyone, yesterday was one of these days. I know that not everybody had a chance to visit, so I would like to invite you to visit some of the studios virtually.

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 3.22.05 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 3.21.57 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 3.21.43 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 3.21.52 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 3.22.27 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 3.22.21 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 3.22.50 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 3.22.44 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 3.34.39 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 3.34.26 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 3.34.32 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 3.35.49 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 3.35.43 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 3.35.34 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 3.39.55 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 3.39.45 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 3.39.32 PM

Studying “Projected and Reflected Light”

Have you ever thought that most of the light that you see is a projected light?
Projected light requires a source from which it is projected. For example Sun, or any light bulb would produce some light. The rest of the light is being reflected by different surfaces.

In my work at the Art Symposium in Slovakia (July 2014) I was studying just that.
On my two canvases I had a personal task to represent the reflected and projected light. I chose a quite graphical solution, using just 3 colors: black, to represent the darkness, white – light and ultramarine – for more visual accent, as well as to represent an extension of invisible ultraviolet light (as a part of the any light dispersion).

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 11.13.23 PM

A simple well know rule of the light behavior, the angle of projection is equal to the angle of reflection, was a key point of the work. Each light line was to be bouncing from the surface at the same angle. I made this work 3D, by adding foil objects to represent a perfect condition for the reflection. Those surfaces were tilted at different angles to the canvas. My viewer could see the reflection of the light line and follow it’s reflection, it would even give an allusion of transparency of the metallic foil. Look at the sketch bellow:

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 1.46.08 PM

Any painting is a reflected light though. To introduce the projected light I decided to make my work interactive: I found a flashlight with a laser which I would invite my viewers to point on the artwork. This addition made the work more exciting, not you could see the light behavior in action. Foil worked as a perfect reflector and would transfer the light to the canvas or the wall, depending on the tilt of the foil. You could even trap the light in the triangles of facing each other foil surfaces.

Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 5.50.43 PM

Both of the works will remain in Slovakia, will be exhibited for one month after the art symposium and the funds from the artwork’s sale will go for supporting the future Multipoint Art Symposiums.

The progress of the work is shown bellow.

1 2 3 4
width=”584″ height=”405″ /> 10
Please comment to this post if you have similar ideas or questions.




Multipoint Art Symposium, Slovakia, 2014

This was my first time of visiting an art symposium. I did not know what to expect, and I knew only that I am going to Slovakia for 10 days and all will be taken care of.

When I arrived to Vienna, I and few other artists were picked up from the airport by a mini bus. We were delivered to Nitra, Slovakia, a city of about 85 000 people, about 2 hours away from Vienna, Austria.

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 6.50.13 PM

That evening we had a wonderful traditional Slovakian diner, where we had our chance to meet everybody: 13 invited artists and handful of organizers of the symposium. We tasted a very strong Slovakian drink in a shot glass and enjoyed our rich delicious dinner.

During the next 10 days we were taken care of as we were some sort of kings and queens. Everything was included, meals and residence in one of the best restaurants/pensions in town, transportation, studio space and more. Organizers were so amazing and extremely kind. Thanks to Martin, Nora, Susanne, Viliam and others.

Every morning we would have have breakfast, then we were brought to our shared studio, where each of artists received 6 large canvases and as much acrylic as we would need. In the middle of the day were were invited for lunch, freshly made for us daily at the studio’s kitchen. Later in the evening we would be taken back to the pension and offered wonderful dinner, after which a projector presentation of 2 artists will be taken place.

We would work at the studio from 9.30 am to 7.30 pm daily. After few days I was getting so tired and had to take naps after the lunch. Reason is that all of us would have not enough time to sleep, since every day after the presentations we would be partying, would it be on the territory of our residence or out in the city. But it was all fun.


Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 11.11.52 PM

Our artistic group included artists from around the world: China, Africa, Europe and America. But let me go one by one and introduce everybody.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 12.12.05 PM

Rafi Münz – Israel
Pottery, paintings on canvas.
Rafi was the oldest member of our group and yet the most energetic one. He likes dancing and singing. I enjoyed talking to him about art and life. He would bring some philosophical subjects up, like “Surviving as an artist = being yourself?”

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 12.09.27 PM

Danka Dimitrijevic – Belgrade
Very textures and abstracted works of mixed media, sculptures.
Works inspired by life experiences, philosophers, spirituality. She often signs her paintings with triangles (d – delta Danka) or egg-shaped ovals. Danka is joy. Always ready for party!

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 12.13.17 PM

Violeta Tanova – Bulgaria
Sawn on glitter on textile, acrylics, mixed media. Works inspired by “fake childhood memories”, crime, suffering people, lonely souls. To be honest I was surprised how is that possible that such heavy subjects were covered by this charming miniature lady?.. Wow, Violeta.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 12.12.34 PM

Viliam Sulik – Slovakia
Stencil works that have a comics hint.
Vil was one of the organizers this year and was always so kind to help. He has a  series of “Secretar” works about locked objects, childhood memories about grandma’s room. He was always interested in finding out more behind hidden.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 12.12.25 PM

Jiulio Zanet – Milan, Italy
Abstract works on canvas with color and objects as the main subject. Unites landscape with abstract. Often his canvas is separated on two parts. I enjoyed his saying “Always get lost to find yourself”. Julio is my favorite Italian and I loved spending time with him while having our after lunch espresso and studying Italian tongue twisters.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 12.10.52 PM

Magdalena Sazdovska – Macedonia
Paintings on canvas, installations. Her art is about ballerina, it is a study of two personalities in ballerina: the visual and hidden, where you don’t see her feelings.
Magdalena was a ballerina for 10 years herself. Magda is a very kind person who is in love with United States, so we had some common subjects daily.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 12.09.01 PM

Peter Barinka – Slovakia
Work inspired by vector graphics and video games.Paintings on canvas, murals, installations. His works are very graphical with a mystery person always present. Night memories, visitors in the shape of shadows could be found in many of Peter’s works.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 12.13.00 PM

Robert Waldeck – Canada
Paintings, mixed media, video. Started with figurative, story telling paintings. Now working with photography, telling stories about the characters. Very architectural work in my opinion. We were impressed with Robert’s film, designed for a music composition by Solar Solar. He spent one month making it, based on time laps photography.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 12.10.33 PM

Vemo Hang – China
Charcoal, oil. Her works are coming from imagination. What is reality and what is imagination? “Extreme mentality”. Vemo has travelled a lot, and made works based on travel photography. Vemo was my room mate and often we would discuss about our day and art.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 12.11.05 PM

Martin Laca – Slovakia – organizer
Drawings, mono prints. Works are based on the inner search of balance. “How to harmonize chaos?”. Many works on paper are done with the slenderest pencil like you can imagine! Mostly, works have a humor point present. I enjoyed Martin’s series “Pink Dreams” where he illustrates his own dreams of becoming an astronaut or famous banjo music star… Martin is a very generous man, and we all are so thankful for organizing this amazing art symposium.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 12.08.49 PM

Henrik Nolte – Germany
Watercolor on paper.
Henrik has registered “Das blog” – online sketch book – few years ago and during this time he started posting his small postcard size works. They are often based on film frames, or tv news. I am very impressed with Henrik’s larger scale works, he says it takes many days to complete one, as it has many layers of pigment applied.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 12.05.57 PM

Jakub Janovsky – Check Republic
Mixed media, paintings, installations. Jakub is often covering the subjects of crime, tattoo.
He enjoys drawing in abandoned places. It is important to work in the spaces that have no limit (border) “you can paint everywhere”, he says. Jakub likes hiding characters in a pointy shaped masks, “they all do horrible things”. Jakub has created his own technique, it invokes drawing on paper first and then using clear material over it and painting on top. I enjoy the esthetics of his works.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 12.11.34 PM

Serge Attukwei Clottey – Gana, Africa
Paintings, installations, performances. Serge’s works are mainly about the climate change, he creates pieces from found objects to emphasize the luck of recycling. He made some works out of containers that were used for oil and now for water container to explain the water problem in Africa.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 12.14.33 PM

Radovan Ondrus – Slovakia
Our talented photographer. Please don’t let a young age of Rado confuse you, he is a very experienced photographer. I am very impressed with his talent and his ability to capture the moment in the best way. Rado was asked to capture every day of the symposium and had his own project as well. He asked each member to photograph him the way they wanted. As well as he has professionally photographed each of us, trying to capture our artistic personalities to give a hint of our interest. For example I was photographed with a hand-made telescope.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 11.13.23 PM

And me, Ekaterina Smirnova – USA
I mainly work in large scale watercolor, implement electronics into my works. At the symposium we all worked with acrylics, so did I. I will write a more detailed blog post about my works in progress. The paintings I made at 3D, I added foil shapes. Those two paintings are a study of the properties of projected and reflected light.


On the 8th day evening was our “Night out” day, it included a public speech of each of the artists at a youth lounge in the city, this time we had to be focused and each of us would only have 10 minutes to present 20 slides. I was the 2nd person to speak.

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 12.02.45 PM

On the 9th day we opened our group show, where each of artists received a document, symbolizing our participation in the symposium and a souvenir.

Even though it was a very intense time, it was also a very memorable one.

I recommend you to apply for the next year:

Being an Artist.

I know many people who think that being an artist is the easiest thing that can happen to you. They would consider you to be spoiled by life. What can I say, artists live their life the way most people don’t:
- they don’t have a boss;
- they have a free schedule;
- they wake up at around noon;
- they drink wine and go to the art openings weekly;
- they often seem to have a lot of free time and don’t work;
- they have unstable psychological personality, which helps them often to not be punished for their behavior;
- they get to do what they like…

There are many more points to this list. These points make artists to be hated by many people. Envy is a strong feeling. What escapes most peoples attention is that for the same reasons artists:

- are often poor, as all the money goes towards art supplies;
- extremely sensitive, especially about their artworks;
- constantly in their thoughts (often developing new ideas), which causes them being lost in real life situations;
- psychological instability effects their mental health;
- they often experience a torture looking at terribly done artworks and yet shown in a museum;
- they often hate themselves for creating something that did not match their standard/idea as envisioned;
- experience a trauma from working with a gallery ( that normally collects 50% of income);
- always in need for money for a frame;
- just few of artists are lucky to have a studio space;
- always in need for your attention and support …

I am not trying to cry here. And yes, most of the lines written in this article do come from my personal experience. I would just like to ask for your patience if you read this far. Artists are the same people, just build a little differently. They have committed their lives to art and they all realize that they are probably not ever going to get rich. But this world of color and ideas is a much stronger magnet then wealth. After all, we all rely on artists, they not only make our world pretty, but also help the future by generating creative unreal ideas that later with a help of scientists become our reality. Please support and encourage creative minds. Become an artist yourself.

Visiting open studios at MANA contemporary


I have discovered MANA just recently, when I was invited to go to the open studios there at the end of spring 2014.
This place is located in New Jersey and takes 2 large industrial buildings. I was blown away with the scale of this art organization. They not only have large exhibitions, but also provide studio spaces for emerging and established artists. Some of the studios offered for free with a support of ESKFF (70 artists are selected to receive studio space and financial assistance for a three to four month residency at Mana Contemporary) and the MANA Residencies (Co-founded by Karline Moeller and Ysabel Pinyol, The Mana Residencies were created with the aim of giving local and international artists studio space).

I was actually planning to apply for them myself, as I believe I will receive a very nice support from ether. And at the moment working on my proposal (it is still competitive though).

I am including a bunch of pictures for you here, judge for yourself how impressive this place is and don’t forget to visit them: visit MANA.














NYC Resistor, Interactive show

I could not resist going to the NYC Resistor annual interactive show! What a party!
So many creative interactive project made by the members and guests of the Resistor’s community. This kind of event makes me happy after seeing so many talented and creative  people. Great DJ, awesome home-brewerd beer and lovely “adorkable”  conversations… What more do you need for the summery saturday evening in Brooklyn?

To add more to it: I was also showing my first interactive piece! 3 sensor (light, sound, temperature) artwork, operated by Arduino. And it worked well and it glowed in the dark like a mystery window to the universe.

The Invisible Visible

The visible is not obvious. So much is hidden behind the visible and can only be revealed when particular conditions are true or specific actions are applied. Like looking at the stars with a naked eye versus using a telescope to see more. 

I invite you to see the invisible and glance at the universe by activating light (hover over to darken), temperature (warm it with your fingers) and sound (clap your hands) sensors.

Artwork by Ekaterina Smirnova, Programming support: Brian Schmitz, Krisztian Gergely

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 12.04.25 PM Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 12.04.41 PM Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 12.04.59 PM Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 12.04.52 PM

Please enjoy my little show review, and don’t forget to visit NYC Resistor at the open house night.

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 12.06.50 PM

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 12.06.30 PM

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 12.05.51 PM

This glowing interactive clothes was designed by Olivia Barr and Trammell Hudson for dance performances. Ballerina is controlling her lights with the way that she movers, if she is very slow, the light is also very dim… Impressive!

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 12.07.07 PM
Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 12.07.18 PM

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 12.05.33 PM

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 12.06.39 PM

Music, controlled by a computer. You can be a DJ yourself, turn the volume up and change the sound with special gloves.
Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 12.06.14 PM

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 12.05.06 PM

Mario game designed to be played on continuous circular monitor. You would have to walk around the screen in order to follow your character.

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 12.06.05 PM

Get to study each character on the subway, use the joystick to zoom into each person. Work by Alon Chitayat.

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 12.05.45 PM

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 12.06.22 PM

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 12.06.57 PM

Works by Jakob Theileis
He designed a self-drawing works. Two spheres with working motor inside control the pencils that move chaotically on the paper. He just needs to move the shapes for the different path and chose the color! Very intricate works. And that speaking goat… too much fun!

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 12.05.16 PM

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 12.05.24 PM