Inside the Studio: Raisa Nosova
American multi-media artist Raisa Nosova lives and works between Brooklyn, NY and Jersey City, NJ. In 2011, she graduated with a BFA from FIT in New York. She received her MFA in Studio Art from New York University in 2021. Nosova has exhibited across the United States, and internationally in Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin.
Nosova has worked with oil, acrylic and construction paper to create her paintings, which comment on the human experience. Her recent study of glass making was fueled by her reaction to the challenges of pregnancy, postpartum and motherhood. Additionally, Nosova paints murals like the one she recently completed in the center of Corbetta, Milan.
Raisa Nosova, Falling Apart, 2022, Acrylic on Canvas, 40 x 34 in
Nosova’s work encourages discussion on the topics of trauma and resilience. She is motivated and does not shy away from difficult subjects of discussion. In fact, she makes it a point for her art to comment on trauma, emotional distress, danger, and the complicated experiences of womanhood and motherhood. In her work prior to the glass series Raisa has been exploring the topic of Jewish genocide.
Nosova actively supports Ukraine by raising awareness to the horrors of the invasion and by selling unique artwork to raise funds. When the paintings on her “Art for Ukraine” page are sold, 50% of the commission is split between three sources that are aiding in the war effort. First, the funds are sent directly to a woman who delivers medical supplies to destroyed cities. Second, the funds support a childbirth hospital in Kyiv and also funds are sent to a volunteer psychologist aiding people in bombed cities.
In 2019, Raisa began studying glass blowing at Urban Glass, Brooklyn. Her recent series Under Her Skin features transparent glass sculptures that discuss the challenges of breastfeeding and motherhood. This work highlights Nosova’s transparency in the discussion of her own experiences no matter how “taboo” they are considered. The glass breasts leak and drip milk in reference to many aspects of breastfeeding that any mother will relate to.
Raisa Nosova, Beezy Mama, 2021, Blown glass, Plastic, 9 x 10 x 4 in
Some of the pieces from Under her Skin were on display with Alessandro Berni Gallery at Art Aqua Miami from November 30th- December 4th. You can purchase Falling Apart and Beezy Mama here: Alessandro Berni Gallery at Aqua Art Miami 2022 | Artsy
Follow Nosova on Instagram: @raisianosova
Check out her website: https://www.raisanosova.com/
In the interview below, I got a chance to ask Raisa some questions regarding her art and process. Read on to find out what glass and motherhood have in common and which past artist Raisa feels close to.
When you first decided to start making art, what did you hope to accomplish?
I first started making art when I was about two years old. My mother would leave stacks of recycled paper and gouache paint for my sister and me as she would leave to work. Painting then was a way to pass time at home while my parents worked double shifts.
I started taking art seriously in high school as an immigrant who had a lot to say but couldn’t express it with a lack of English vocabulary. I internalized many experiences as a teenager and processed them through my visual work. So, perhaps my drive for art was simple communication.
Throughout your artistic career, how have your travels and your journeys with motherhood influenced your art?
I started intensely traveling at the age of 20, as I was graduating from my BFA program. I then realized how little I understood about the world and how skewed my perception of cultures was due to the media and travel industries.
I interrupted my degree and went to study abroad in Brussels in 2010. While in Europe, I went through 14 countries, then the Near East and then Southeast Asia. It was my trip through Cambodia that caused a turning point in my work.
After seeing the torn culture and learning about the individual as well as societal struggles of the Khmer people, due to the genocide, I was struck with a sense of duty to perform as an artist. I felt as if I transformed into a filter, processing powerful experiences that I witnessed firsthand into works of art that would communicate the pain on a deep level, the way art can.
Since then, my artistic focus has been drawn to extreme life experiences, exploring ways to communicate the feelings of pain and trauma to my audience in hopes of a wholesome future.
Motherhood came to me when I was in the midst of exploring the topic of Jewish genocide in relation to my family. With that mindset of a filter as an artist, I continued to reflect upon the challenges of pregnancy and the postpartum.
What was it like learning to use glass for Under Her Skin? How do you feel about the outcome?
I started learning how to use glass in the first week of my first pregnancy. It was more challenging than it could’ve been, considering the shortness of breath and the weakness that my body was going through while I worked in the hot shop, heavy lifting. My glass professor at the time, Eddy Zapata, was the first person outside of my family to find out about my pregnancy, as I had to run by him about various toxins and techniques that I would face in the studio throughout the year. He would always encourage me to be more active in the hot shop and not treat pregnancy as a physical restraint. I quickly began to draw many connections between the medium and the transformations that my body was going through. Both glass and motherhood are fragile yet strong. They were also both new to me. I didn’t feel any pressure in making a perfect piece of art in glass because I was just exploring it. And so, within 2 years, that exploration resulted in becoming my new visual language. There is no better way in which I could have communicated the struggles that I was going through.
Do you plan to create more with glass in the future?
I am now breastfeeding my second son, with new challenges that I face daily in this postpartum. My brain is constantly reflecting with more ideas for the series. So, it is not nearly complete. I have a few other series that I have done in glass. It is an addicting material to work with.
Is there one person or style that has been most influential to your artistic style?
As a painter my influences have been Rothko, Jonas Burgher, Swoon, Sanya Kantarovsky, Titus Kaphar, and Giacometti.
Yet, I have been speaking in my head to Louise Bourgeois throughout the last 4 years.
You have created murals in Milan, Italy and across New Jersey and New York, such as at the Bonsai, Concorde Hotel in New York, NY. Since murals take you out of the studio, I’m curious what the creation and production process of your murals has been like?
During the Covid pandemic, I got to gravitate my painting work out to the street as murals. I find painting in the studio to be an extremely intimate process, one that requires an incredible amount of focus and reflection, and one that I am rarely able to do since becoming a mom.
Major percentage of my sculpture as well as my mural work consists of physical labor post concept creation. I first sketch out the idea in the studio and then get out to the mural sites where I work anywhere from 1 day, to a week, full time. I don't use grids. I have trained my eye to understand angles and proportions to free draw my outlines. I then work in layers, building up to more fine details with each layer.
How will you continue to support Ukrainian efforts with your art?
In addition to continuing running “Art for Ukraine” page on my website with works for sale that raise financial help directly to volunteers on the battlefield in Ukraine, I am currently looking for my next wall for a portrait on the topic of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine. I don’t see myself stopping in raising awareness to the damage and to the continuous attacks. It is a topic of pain that hits home for me.