Women’s March Art from Talia Koval

By the Editors

We’ll admit it – we’re suckers for clever signage at marches and protests. And this year’s Women’s March Sacramento didn’t disappoint.

And one marcher definitely caught our eye…meet artist Talia Koval (Website, Instagram, Facebook).

Talia is a classically-trained artist who “transforms the magic of life’s sweetest moments into vibrant paintings—live, in the moment” and is based just up the road in Tahoe. She was on the scene to literally PAINT the scene. The second we saw it, we knew we needed a print and that we wanted to share her talent with our readers.

Luckily, she obliged us on both counts.

What inspired you to attend and paint the March? 

As a refugee and immigrant, I am proud to hold citizenship in the United States because of the opportunities that I have here as a woman, as well as the laws that protect us from violence/abuse and a supportive culture that enables me to live up to my human potential. I don’t want to lose any of these rights.

I had none of this kind of protection as a girl in Ukraine and have seen what happens to women who don’t have these laws and rights. I don’t want those things to happen to me or to any sister ever. The current political situation seems to threaten our rights and protections. The Women’s March resists that threat, and I showed up to strengthen our voice of resistance and amplify it in an effective and more colorful way.

Several personal experiences have made it difficult for me to express myself out loud, and I’m working on becoming less silent. Painting is currently my strongest expression of my voice. I wanted to contribute to the march and to the protection of human rights in the US.

Paintings are a footprint of culture and mark significant historical events, and I wanted to create a tangible record of this significant event in California and in our nation’s history.

How was your experience at the March?

The experience was surprising, moving and very positive. I wasn’t sure what to expect and thought it could either turn out to be very awesome or it could get ugly—and if the crowd got large and rowdy, I was afraid that I might get knocked over, kicked out, arrested or have my canvas destroyed. But that risk wasn’t as significant as the risk of not standing up.

I was impressed at how organized and peaceful the event was. People held hands and smiled, they were kind, curious and respectful to one another. Girls of all ages showed up, as well as men and couples of various ages holding hands and supporting the march. This was probably the most peaceful, positive and happy protest that I have ever witnessed.

Standing in one location with the protest flowing around me, people came up to watch the painting come to life. I asked them why they came, what they stood for, where they were from, and got to listen to their stories, read their signs, and watch families and friends interact.

I was amazed at how much the painting became an interactive element that united, empowered and inspired people. People were excited when they realized that I was painting them or their sign. There was a sensation that we were all connected and that we were creating and being a part of something bigger. I wanted to include as much as I could and open the painting to the community so I invited people to contribute leaving a mark on the side of the canvas. A young teen came up and when I handed her the brush she wrote “ If you don’t stand up for anything, you fall for everything”. That resonated with me. Another sign touched me deeply: “Silence is Violence”, and it made me think about all the times I stayed silent to avoid further conflict and the example I was setting for the girls entering womanhood.

Describe your art to our readers – what’s your aesthetic?

My art is my voice and a form of service to people and our planet. In my work, I  aim to highlight the value that might be overlooked in people, events and the constantly changing landscape we share. My paintings feature vibrant colors, dynamic movement and compelling emotion. I often paint live as I witness something or when I’m moved about a person, a landscape or an event.  My ultimate goal as an artist is to show the energy of life, bring meaning and record a period of our culture through a trail of paintings.

What inspired you to become an artist?

I knew it at a young age, probably the most memorable recognition was when a high school teacher said: “ I thought you wanted to be an artist.” I cried at that comment and left class as the flood of emotion made me realize that I really did want to be an artist and the possibility of not becoming one really hurt.

Despite my deep desire, I did not pursue the path of an artist until my mid-twenties. I was scared. My family came as refugees to the U.S. to realize the American Dream, and I didn’t want to fail or risk all their efforts and sacrifices. The “starving” artist myth felt real.

What’s the most surprising career lesson so far?

Art is not just an activity of the imagination, it is a service to the community. Art is like a mirror – it reflects where people come from, what they feel and what they desire.

Inspiration does not come when you want it to come. It arrives while I am engaging in behaviors true to my inner self. Falling in love with the process is much more sustainable than falling in love with the result.

What advice would you give a young woman just starting out or thinking about becoming an artist?

Do everything you can to maintain a healthy art practice: this includes emotional and physical health. Take preventive measures to protect yourself from toxic materials and toxic people. Your talent is amazing – your health will allow you to make the most of it and share it.

Stay dedicated, don’t undervalue your talent and hard work, listen to your clients and patrons – they are your market and your environment, they will challenge you and help you grow; ultimately it is about them not just about you. Strive to reach moments of creative flow rather than popularity and beautiful results. Put yourself out there. Be honest. Don’t settle for less than what you believe in. No one will “discover” or “make” you, if they do, they also have the power to break you. Invest in your skill. Embrace your first steps. It is not always easy; it is a path of continuous discovery and is extremely rewarding.

What Sacramento region artists do you admire? 

  • Nicole Sepulveda – Photography Artist at Xsigh Studio (Sacramento) – She works magic with photography and has a way of making her subjects feel extremely comfortable whether it is a nude woman or a wolf. Her style is dramatic and powerful. She is not intrusive and can capture an emotion without making the subject fake it. She is honest about her capabilities – never over promises and always over-delivers. Nicole is a risk taker and game changer. When I called and shared my idea of painting the March live, she was in without any hesitation. A day later, she and her studio created a video —something that usually takes others months to finish. She is kind to people yet firm in her work.
  • David Garibaldi – Live Performance Painter (Sacramento) – While I haven’t yet met him in person, I’ve admired him for years. I discovered David through YouTube videos. I admire him for his dedication to building his brand putting himself out there fearlessly—his ability to face the camera and speak directly to his audience in raw, unfiltered form.
  • Featherpistol – (Tahoe) – She is a performing artist who is challenging the way a woman’s body is seen and uses performance pole art to raise money for conservation with her project: polefortheglobe.com  She has guts and transforms the way women feel about their bodies.

You can buy the prints HERE, and be sure to check out this rad video of Talia painting this historic scene!

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