Interview with Katie Bonadies
Pictured: Rebecca Volynsky, RVOL Creative. Image courtesy of the artist.
Rebecca is a mixed media artist and muralist. She has been at RWS for a year and a half. Rebecca has two different approaches to her creative practice and she finds it necessary to have a balance of both. She is an entrepreneur and paints murals for clients as a part of her business, RVOL Creative, that she formed in August 2021. The murals are a collaborative process wherein Rebecca incorporates the client's vision and branding into her designs. When Rebecca is creating for herself she makes mixed media art. These pieces are spontaneous and intuitive and her loose style is emotive and abstract. The process is more like an act of play or experimentation and it informs her composition and color decisions when she’s designing client-based mural work.
Rebecca started painting murals by accident six years ago. Making art was always a side project as she explored different career paths, including working as the Fund Development Director for Providence ¡CityArts! for Youth and Confidential Executive Assistant to Providence City Council. She was working full time in her hometown of Providence, Rhode Island, and had started developing a food startup making bagels and pierogi in homage to her cultural heritage when she reached out to a local bakery, called Knead Donuts, in search of access to more space. The owner of the bakery was familiar with Rebecca's work through the local arts scene and offered her use of their space in exchange for painting a mural at one of their new locations. Rebecca had never painted a mural before and took on the project as a new opportunity. She quickly started getting more mural requests and pivoted her practice in that direction.
She has since relocated to Portland and has made mural work her priority. Rebecca realized she could take all of the skills and work and focus she had put into working for others and put that energy into her creative practice by building a creative business. Like any new business, she has experienced a lot of ups and downs over the past couple of years, “It’s very hard. There are a lot of different facets to operating a business, especially a creative business.” She has experienced learning curves with administration, but she says it’s worth it and she’s excited to see how the business continues to grow and evolve over time. She recognizes that it would not be possible to continue her business if she didn’t maintain a personal creative practice.
What I Really Mean Is. 20"x20". Mixed media painting and I Am the Garden. (Detail). 38"x38". Mixed media collage on paper. 2019. painting and collage on paper. 2015.
Rebecca credits her success and dedication to a continuous creative practice to an after school arts program called New Urban Arts (NUA). NUA is a youth nonprofit organization based in Providence whose mission is to provide opportunities to help students develop a sustainable creative practice in their daily lives by providing mentorship with local artists. Rebecca went every day. She and the other students were taught to use art as a way of self expression, to use it as a form of healing and a way to reflect on life’s challenges, “For artists the act of creating is a way to create a visual language that communicates on a level beyond words.” Since then, creating has always been a form of art therapy for Rebecca and a part of her identity. Her artist mentors at NUA also introduced her to the local arts and music scene. Being a part of that community helped fuel and develop Rebecca’s creative practice. She believes the program shifted the trajectory of her life as she went on to study art at The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
For Rebecca, art is an extension of self-discovery and growth. Her work is a visual representation of her internal dialogue as creating is often a way of working through her emotions. A lot of the mark-making in her mixed-media work comes from different gut feelings and corporeal sensations. She uses the work as a means to synthesize experiences that she has moved through. It’s an abstract, emotional, and intuitive way of creating and each mark is an act of spontaneity guided by Rebecca’s intuition, “I trust in myself, in the moment, to just let go.” She hopes her work brings others a sense of calm and introspection. She hopes that viewers feel a safe space within the artwork and that it brings them healing and connection with themselves, “There are studies that show looking at art can help calm the parasympathetic nervous system and spark creativity. Viewing art causes the body to release the same hormones that you feel when looking at someone you love.”
Private residential in Portland, ME. 2023. Big Fin Poke in South Portland, ME. 2023. Move Mountains Co. in RI. 2022.
Her abstract shapes are also influenced by Eastern European folk art, “That was my first experience with art and seeing that style painted on decor in my grandmother’s house has always been inspiring to me.” Rebecca currently has a painting on display at Buoy Gallery in Kittery that is a response to her personal growth in regards to body image and self acceptance. Representation of the body–something she doesn’t normally do–is framed by floral shapes and elements that she finds similar to Eastern European floral painting. The piece will be on view through the end of May.
It has taken Rebecca some time to get used to working within the duality of her creative practice. Recently her mural work has dominated and after completing three back to back projects she experienced some burn out. When she returned to her studio she didn’t know what to create or do. Now she’s focused on loosening up a bit so that she can experiment and create a new series of work, and she’s happy just ‘doing the thing’. She is currently creating a body of work that she plans to release on her web shop. While she builds this new body of work, she is accepting new commercial and residential mural clients.
Rebecca’s murals can be found in Providence, RI, Cambridge, MA, and at businesses across the city of Portland, ME, including at Big Fin Poké, Heart and Mane, and Preble Street, among others. Last year her mural at Belleflower Brewing was voted Best Mural in Portland Old Port’s annual Best of Portland awards. Contact Rebecca through email at email@example.com, and through her website (https://rvolcreative.com/) and on Instagram (@rvolcreative).