Maria Shatalova was born in Murmansk, Russia to a Ukranian-Russian family. From an early age she was interested in all forms of visual expression, starting out with a classical training in the arts. She then became fascinated with photography and digital post production.
Now she works both in physical and digital arts, as well as photography. She now mainly focuses on the field of mixed media photo manipulation. Constantly weaving different textures, materials, tones, techniques and mediums to create a whirlwind of emotions through the smallest details of the image in order to reveal the beauty that can only be found in the inconspicuous.
Maria’s recent experiments in digital art were mainly focused on merging cutting edge technology such as 3d, AI generated pictures with more traditional hand painting and photography to create projects that can give a chance to emerge into psyche of the modern day human being that is still very connected to his tribal origin and nature.
Where are you from and where are you based now? Could you tell us a little about both?
I was born in Russia in a Russian-Ukrainian family, but I no longer live there. I spent my childhood and youth in the city of Kaliningrad (the former German city of Koenigbserg). This is a small town on the coast of the Baltic Sea, with old German architecture and a measured rhythm of life. I left the country and right now I am temporarily living in the mountains, in the city of Almaty (Kazakhstan).
There are incredible natural landscapes here. Azure lakes, canyons, steppes and rocks. I got acquainted with the culture of this country, local traditions, food, interests and the way of life of the locals. I feel a great gratitude to the Kazakh people for their kindness and friendliness. Actually now, I’m not looking for a certain place of residence for a long time. For the next year, I plan to live the life of a traveler, get in touch with the culture of other people and add impressions and context from it into my work.
Your work revolves around practices of different art medium manipulations and metamorphosis. How did your journey into this aesthetic begin? What is your background?
From early childhood, studying the biographies of artists, getting to know their works gave rise to the desire to create something of my own, to express my feelings and experience in a certain form. It is difficult to say exactly when my creative path began, it seems that it has lasted my whole life since birth. In fact, the feeling of the “eternal path” attracts me with a thirst for constant study and development based on experiments in techniques and new approaches in creating works.
Can you tell me about your creative process?
My creative process is hybrid. I work in mixed media, which is a synthesis of photographs, hand drawing, digital painting, collage and 3D modelling. Art works often arise based on photographs, which are subsequently modernized and taken on a whole new form through collage, creation and texture creation by hand.
The main components in the creation of works are the presence of constant experiments and experience. Creating contexts using 3D modelling or using the power of artificial intelligence further blurs the boundaries of what is possible in the creative process. The feeling of a wide range of possibilities in the use of different techniques creates a constant thirst to explore, apply and combine different approaches into a single whole work.
Your work reconnects wholly to a natural and repressed time, imaginary beings emerge from the unconscious, uncanny and distorted. Can you tell us about these subjects?
I can’t say that I am developing some particular themes or subjects. I’m trying to be as honest as I can while working on a piece, so it is possible that unconsciously the same beings, themes or forms keep coming up. I feel that beauty and ugliness are fundamentally interconnected and one can be learned, revealed and understood through another.
What relationship do you have with your audience?
Before, I had no idea how strong the role of support from people who pay attention to my work is. The response of the audience definitely gives me energy to create new works. Also, people talk about their feelings and interpret my work in their own way – this is a very important and valuable part of interacting with an audience.
Communication with other artists helps development, we share experience and techniques with each other, I appreciate this unique opportunity to learn about a person’s path, their culture and characteristics in the creative process.
Sometimes I get a response from people just starting their creative path. I try to give them support, share knowledge and show the technical stages in the creation of works, as well as give advice if they ask for it. As a separate point, I would like to note the experience of communicating with people from the musical field and creating visuals for musicians that correlate with their visions of the world, reflected in their music.
I get tremendous pleasure when we understand each other and create collaborations based on the fusion of our feelings and visions. I feel great love and gratitude.
Which reflections do you carry with you from these last few years, so intense and overwhelmed by pandemics, wars and turnarounds?
It’s no secret that the last few years have been really hard. During this time, I noted that from a teenage “help me, teach me”, I have grown in desire to help others. This was facilitated by tragic personal and global events. I felt the role of support and love from others. Now I am able to give this support and love to other people who need it.
Can you tell us about a place you would like to visit in the near future or a subject close to your heart?
I have great interest in Asian countries, the way of life, mentality and unique approaches in the art of photography, music and digital art. My current plan is to explore Thailand, China and Japan by living in each of these countries for some time.
What is inspiring you the most right now?
It fascinates me to watch Butoh dances. This is an avant-garde dance style that originates in Japan. It presupposes the existence of a natural state of humanity (as opposed to a culturally determined one) that can be achieved and expressed by movement. I find in this approach a similarity with my attitude towards the creation of art. Speaking about art “in motion”, I would like to mention the work of the Greek experimental theatre director Dimitris Papaioannou.
The plasticity of human bodies, interaction with installations on the stage, the meanings that the author puts into his works – all this together is insanely tempting and inspiring. Among photographers in the fashion industry, I would single out Zhong Lin and her play with light, color and contrasts. She herself says that in her work she chooses an instinctive approach and does not have a certain pre-made standard for creating her shoots, which correlates with my process.
Particular attention should be paid to her project “365”, it is incredibly inspiring to continue to create, despite any difficulties. I love looking at the work of Chinese photographer Leslie Zhang. His originality, creativity of approach and work with color are undoubtedly a source of my inspiration. In fact, this list is quite extensive and if we talk about inspiration as an emerging factor and its origins, then I would say that inspiration is everywhere. Literally.
It can arise from reasoning about the transcendent, understanding mortality, meeting new people and their destinies, tactile sensations, feelings of falling in love, traveling, hours spent alone with oneself, unexpected proposals, books, magazines, movies. Inspiration can come from nowhere and from everywhere at once. It is important to cling to this feeling and not leave it unattended.
As for creativity and its technical side, I continue and will continue to experiment with new approaches and materials to shape the feeling. I am also planning to participate in new exhibitions and large projects in the near future.
Where can we find you online?
You can find me on Instagram @m_shatalova and Twitter @shatalovamart .