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Art & Life with Katherine Bibilouri

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katherine Bibilouri.

Katherine, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
Before I delve into my own story, I first want to establish my definition of an artist today: As humans, we were born into a magnificent world of sensations. As children, we were fully capable of exploring this world. As adults, structures, rules, and labels forced us to maintain order to the extent that we limit ourselves from understanding what it means to be human. “ The Artist” has the power to convey the realities we are afraid to acknowledge in our everyday lives. However, “the artist” should not be an exclusive role; we are all artists; we can all embrace creative expression.

I am a first generation Georgian-Russian American. My first real contact with the arts was when I was twelve years old and began commuting to New York City to train in Russian Classical Ballet. By the time I was 13, a lot of my friends were starting to invest more time in training for careers as professional dancers; some even began homeschooling. It was the first time I had to make a choice, succumb to social pressure, and “choose” my education over dance.

A turning point in my story was a specific painting of a ballet dancer. For eight months I had been focused on making this painting perfect. In retrospect, I think this painting was reflective of my nostalgia for dance. No matter how much I would try, this painting would never be perfect. Until one day, I painted my eight months of work completely gray. Then, my once ballet dancer now a gray blob of a painting, turned into a colorful, expressive figure, illuminated by a white light.

It was at that point in my life that I realized I was more than a label as a dancer, artist, or student. I was allowed to paint outside the lines because there were none; I made the lines myself. Success no longer meant attaining perfection or following a convergent path limited to satisfying the desires of my friends and family, success for me came from finding the authority in myself to create my own artistic practices and embrace the fact that I understand the world through creative expression.

When I hear people tell me they can’t dance or draw, I genuinely get upset. As human beings, we were all born with a natural tendency to create and move just as we did when we were children.

Art is not exclusive; it is human.

Through my story, I hope to help people realize that we are more than a specialized career path. Life is about balance, and no matter what the circumstances, we are worth our creative expression.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
My background as a dancer is the foundation of how I interact with the world through different mediums. Currently, a large body of my work is very centered around images of expressive figures I depict through paintings, photographs, videos, poetry, and choreography. My inspiration in this process is capturing human intimacy in oneself and the world.

However, my new body of work is heavily inspired by my heritage. I was raised by my two Georgian grandparents, both of whom didn’t speak any English. In my private life, I was predominantly exposed to Georgian culture. As a child, my mother also enrolled me in Russian after school where I learned to read and write in Russian, but institutionally, I was in the American School system. In 2008, Russia invaded Georgia; it was the only news my father would talk about at the time. Growing up with a Russian mother and Georgian father in the United States, thus prompted me to develop a comparative perspective on a global political scale from a very young age. Therefore, in addition to working on my art, I am a dual degree student between Sciences Po (France) and Columbia University (New York City).

My most recent project is a collaboration with the American Friends of Georgia. This summer, I plan to work at the Nikozi Art Rehabilitation and Education Center; Nikozi is village located near the border of Russian-occupied South Ossetia. The goal of this center is to aid war-affected children and adolescents through art and vocational education. At Nikozi, I will be working as a volunteer, healing through the arts and dance. In addition to volunteering, I will be documenting my experience and creating content to publish upon my return to the United States. My goal for this project is to connect the lessons I have been learning from my multiple experiences across borders to make an equal contribution to the community, act as a bridge between the cultures I am connected to, and heal through the arts.

How do you think about success, as an artist, and what do quality do you feel is most helpful?
A successful artist is someone who can simultaneously move and unite people through their work. An artist’s work is successful when it is so mesmerizing you want to touch it or be a part of it, and truly understand it past a superficial level. A successful artist is confident in their work and is not afraid of putting themselves out there. Lastly, a successful artist is one who can inspire other people to create artwork.

As an artist, a student, a mover, a human, I define success in the will to empower people to realize that we are more than labels placed on us by our environments. Art is more than a specific carrier path; it is a means of interpreting the world. We are all artists. We are all worth our creative expression.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
People can support my work by following my social media! I post my videos on my youtube channel and Instagram page, both which can be found under my name Katherine Bibilouri. People can also find my older paintings, drawings, and photography on my Facebook Page “Process the Creative.”

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Katherine Bibilouri

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