Anya Mielniczek is a Toronto based multidisciplinary artist who combines her fine art background with raw material grit in both private and public sectors creating mixed-media installations, mural work and facilitating community art activations.
The artists approach to mediums includes latex, aerosol and upcycled waste, working with the mechanical application of spray and the energy of hand brushed strokes (infused with powerful female portraits and garbage bits if possible).
A Queen’s University graduate, Anya’s worked with various organizations, municipalities and businesses creating public art within communities around Toronto and internationally. Recently her murals have taken her to Europe and South America while her corporate projects include lead production on HideSeek, a 7000sq foot immersive art experience in Toronto in 2019 and collaborations with BACARDI, QUO Makeup, Moroccanoil, DELL, RBC, 1800GOTJUNK and Chevrolet. Her commitment to her practice especially when aligned with public spaces is to create with purpose by giving nature a voice while defining a conversation with the viewer that may inspire and bring awareness for sustainable change.
Interview with Anya
Can you give the readers a brief description of your artistic practice, including main themes and materials you employ with your art-making?
My artistic practice utilizes an array of mediums which most notably includes spray paint, latex and found materials (such as plastic bags and candy wrappers to name a few). I’m drawn to portraiture and nature inspired themes that have come through in pollinator and flower representations lately. I love working in mixed media and find myself bouncing between mediums. My focus is on creating with the environment in mind and lean towards creating work that gives nature a voice.
Your work focuses on environmental issues and making art with garbage. Did anything shift in your art practice as a result of the pandemic?
The lockdown allowed me more time to actually create work from home using garbage. The last few years has pulled me outdoors working back to back on mural pieces which left little to no time to get into my garbage work. The pandemic offered a nice shift to slow down, organize and ultimately collage new pieces from the waste materials collected at home.
I know you retrieve some waste materials from your family members, is family an important value embedded in the work in addition to the environmental message?
I love this question because I never considered the value of family in my work. Taking this into consideration there is an innate imprint of the impact family has in creating my garbage art whether that is my immediate family or my art family. Most of the found materials I collect is through the help of this family system.
Do you have any tips from your personal practice that may help other artists who are currently struggling to stay creative?
I find my biggest struggle with staying creative is feeling burnt out or just not into it. I never try to force myself to finish a design, painting or any other project if I’m not whole heartedly in the right space. I don’t believe it’s worth forcing a piece. In those moments I want to realign and feel good and that may mean staying creative in other ways if that’s cooking or baking in the kitchen for the day, maybe taking a day out in nature, reading a solid book or watching an inspiring documentary. Anything that helps me move on, whether that’s physically or mentally, and replenish my creative juices. Sometimes, creativity just takes time as much as I might want to whip something out in a day, that something might need to be nurtured over a few days or weeks and I find tuning into that also helps me stay creative and happy.
You traveled to Austria for mural painting in August, can you share a bit about that project and what you learned while working abroad during the pandemic?
Yes, I got the chance to paint with IonArt in Austria. The piece I painted was actually two hours out of the capital in a hillside country town called Scheibbs. The project was for a private home where the family was looking to have the side of their garage wall (12×55 feet) painted in a natural theme which included native flowers, a butterfly and wood imagery. Working abroad during the pandemic was an interesting experience in that it allowed me to see how different cities and cultures have been dealing with COVID. Everywhere the energy resonated a bit differently and it showed me it was still possible to travel while still obeying protocol for the safety of others.
What advice do you have for our readers about finding opportunities to paint abroad or form collaborations outside of Canada?
There are hundreds of opportunities abroad. It just takes some research and online googling time to find the projects, festivals or organizations that may spark your interest. My advice is to do your homework and email / Instagram message a couple a day. This gives you a great chance to connect, find out information or land a project overseas.
Can you tell us about your upcoming trip to Guatemala and the work you’ll be doing there?
November 26th I’m flying to Guatemala and painting in Guatemala City with Festival Matices which is an all female street art jam. I’m excited for the festival and to paint along an all female lineup. Especially because the theme is around Women changing history and Raising your voice. The impact of the pieces planned for the festival is to intentionally inspire and do good for the community. I love to paint with purpose so you’ll just have to stay tuned till then to see the work I have planned! :)
Edit: This trip has been postponed to 2021! You’ll have to stay tuned a little bit longer!
What are your plans for the coming year and introducing online teaching and mentorship into your art practice?
I have a dream that’s been slowly unfolding (in between mural seasons) to create an online space that includes mentorship and support through modules that teach various aspects of the creative industry such as mindset, branding, marketing, sales and more – to creatives. Pulling from my experiences over the last ten years I would love to be able to give back and help other artists that may be either emerging or needing a boost with their creative business.
What is the value of having a Mural Routes membership for you?
It’s great to be part of the Mural Routes network and artist roster. Especially when this comes to landing potential projects and connecting with clients that may not have come across my work without it. I value what Mural Routes stands for in the mural industry and their reputation in Toronto and internationally. I also appreciate getting monthly newsletters or emails with open calls for various mural related projects which are another wicked resource when it comes to landing jobs. Plus, I’m able to do sweet things like this interview, which I’m so grateful for! Thank you!
Check out more of Anya’s work:
Mural Routes member page