Name: Marta Spendowska
Hometown: Green Bay, WI for now, but I’m hoping Charleston, SC soon. Originally I’m from a very old and beautiful town called Jawor in the south of Poland.
What restaurant do you recommend in your city, hometown? Z-Harvest and Bleu are the best places to eat vegetarian.
Favorite place to travel to: For the longest time Vienna, Germany was my favorite place is the world. Then I saw Asheville, NC and it won my heart. After that New York. Since I have started traveling regularly to Poland, the Polish Sea and it’s majestic gray nature (like Polish people’s heart) is my all time favorite spot to paint, be with my family, walk on beaches and dig my toes in the most fabulous sand.
Favorite Cocktail: Red wine. You surprised because I’m Polish and I didn’t say a vodka cocktail, are you?
Collectable Item: I collect art books, catalogs, poster books. I have this unhealthy obsessive relationship with my brushes and fountain pens—there is never enough. I’m also just starting to collect original artwork.
Best Book: Century XXI by Ewa Kuryluk who is a Polish pioneer of textile installation, painter, art historian, novelist and a poet.
She was fascinated with Vienna and at some point I thought this will my be my home.
It’s like a vortex of archetypes and myths, clashed with contemporary real people and fantasizes, where Simone Weil talks to Anna Karenina and Malcolm Lawry meets Joseph Conrad, where women want to go to the moon to escape the earth. Anyways, the moment I read the first sentence I knew I’ll melt “ The red sea of my mind…” which I adopt to my artists statements.
Most influential person in your artistic career: Growing up I got fascinated by the musician and a visionary Björk. Her originality, boldness, out of the box living and the way she was making theater out of her life and music made me believe life and work can interwind in the best inspiring way.
Studio Location: Right now, before the move I paint in the home studio. Once we move I hope to get a place with big windows and beautiful natural light.
Moment you knew you wanted to be a full time artist: I’ve always wanted to be a full time artist. Before committing to it, I went through years of being a designer and an illustrator once I felt I’m ready I decided to become a full time artist.
What was your path to becoming an artist like? How did you make that leap?
I came to Atlanta GA for an internship during my 4rd year of University and I explored. I was shocked; by people, possibilities, colors, smiles, things, museums, that you could rent any number of books from the library, young people, cars, freedom, openness, again possibilities. Poland is gorgeous but it’s a hard country to live, be an artist. I sold my first original sitting on the pavement in Atlanta and I knew I could make it happen here. But I had to go back and to finish my Masters. After that it’s pretty much impossible to fly back to America. The USA has very strict rules for Poland. Once you’re out of collage you can forget about getting any visa if you don’t have any family here, lots of money in Poland (to prove you’re going to come back). So, I faked it. Yep. I borrowed bunch of money from everyone I knew, I got all documents from my deadened job (proving how awesome and needed I am in there), basically faked my stable roots. When the immigration officer looked into my eyes he knew. I was the last person to enter the room. He knew I had plans bigger than to see New York and travel for 6 months. How a young Polish girl could afford to just travel in America..? He looked at me and he said : you better make it worth it. It was a miracle. He was a miracle worker.
Where do you find inspiration? I actually have set times for looking and searching for inspiration. There is too much noise out there. Galleries, flea markets, books are my favorite ways to get inspired. But a nice long yoga session will do it too. I try to work and get my inspiration from progressing in my art. It’s very easy to get distracted by the work of others and social media.
What influences your work? I always say that my year starts after I’m back from Poland, so usually in June.
While there I rest, make plans, revisits my previous year and so on.
Poland is my mother country that I intentionally left to pursue art.
The sentiment for dusk, fog, blooming of plants and for the long empty but full of contrast spaces and loneliness is always with me. That visual is always there, in my head. But the most important, the Polish sea, Bałtyk… it is like no other in the whole world. Foamy, capriciously hot or cold, violet-gray and sentimental. It smells like the sea should smell: iodine plus warm sun. This is my most beloved place in the whole world. The imperfections, its raw force is truly what influences my very fluid and nostalgic work. The movement of the paint, the impulse of taking a chance on paper or canvas, fast, loosely, with no plan — like when I hopped on the plane with a one way ticket to a promised land. I paint with Bałtyk water actually. I use it in Poland and I bring it back here. I just add few droplets throughout the year to keep that presence in my work. It’s the most important, physically, component in my paintings.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist? Actually I really thought I’d be a writer. You won’t hear any crazy poetic eloquence in my English, but I grew up with a family working in linguistics and literature so I read and wrote stories all day long. I attended amazing schools thanks to winning a few literary scholarships and almost met Björk in Paris after being chosen a runner upper in an international writing competition. Almost. After some time in USA I started feeling isolated because my Polish was useless and my English felt ok but not perfect at all. I painted all my life, my mom always says she was lucky because all I needed was a set of watercolors, and I grew up with my father being an amateur painter. After coming to USA I specifically made a commitment to communicate visually. I think it came from a point of sadness about loosing that special gift of eloquence which I wasn’t able to use in English. If I think about it now I almost feel that I came back to painting out of upset. It became my best decision, art is everything to me. I hope that every piece I paint and send is making my collectors feel joyful and inspired every time they see it on their wall. This is the best job in the whole world.
Favorite Quote: “The red sea of my mind…” – Ewa Kuryluk
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
– Mark Twain