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The power of social media to connect people is constantly amazing me.  Over the last few months, I’ve gotten to know Roka Walsh and am very excited to hae her on the blog today.

Roka is a photographer.  She has had a sucessful career as a graphic designer but is now pursuing a degree in Art Therapy while she continues to produce and show her beautiful, digital art work.

Roka says, “A thing of beauty can evoke an emotional reaction within us and cause us to feel at peace, even if just for a moment. Therein likes the “why” for doing what I do.
I love finding beauty in the world and re-imaging it for you to see”
~ Roka

I am 58 years old and a photographic artist. I often take my photographs and create a different form of art with a few photographs, my imagination, and a digital “paintbrush”.

THE Q & A

From where do you draw inspiration?

My immediate response is that I find my inspiration in nature, it’s beauty and quirkiness. I also find inspiration in connecting with other artists, but where I find my most powerful inspiration, is deep inside of myself. There are times when I just have to go out and shoot some photos or play with my photographs. My passion for what I do is certainly a part of that desire, but it’s something else that that compels me and it’s just as strong. Perhaps it’s instinct.

As for what inspires me overall in my art, I love the ephemeral nature of flowers. They come into being—awe us with their beauty, form, color, scent, and texture—and then they quietly go, reminding us that life is fragile and fleeting, serving as a symbol of our own inherent transience.

What is the hardest thing about your creative process?

My biggest challenge to my creative process is a simple lack of time. It really is my biggest and, at this point, only roadblock. As a full-time student, graphic artist, mother, grandmother, partner, AND artist – there just isn’t enough time in the day and/or night.

Do you work every day, or only when inspiration/opportunity strike?

I would work with my art all day, everyday, if I could. Between terms, I spend a lot of time in the field or in my studio. My academic goal is to be certified as an art therapist. I’ll be starting this particular career as my friends are retiring. Adding the “art” to the “therapist” gave me an excuse to take more art classes, so there are many terms where I am playing with art other than my art that might be considered “work”.

How do you feel about the current art market/art climate?

Of course, I wish that the current market for art were better, more supportive of the arts. The market isn’t what drives me to create and I am thankful for that. I would love to get to a point where I could rely on my art in order survive, but that’s just not the case. I think the challenging part for me, is that I see less appreciation and support for the arts than I used to. Not just in the art market, but all over the spectrum… especially in the schools, where art (or music, or PE) is now less likely to be offered in the curriculum.

If you could change one thing about the art world today, what would it be?

I would introduce the value of art to children at a very young age so that it is incorporated into their everyday thinking: Teach them about the creative process and how art is an opening into other worlds of thought, vision and ideas.

Talk a little bit about your current project and why you decide to embark on it.

My work is coming very slowly on a couple of new digital paintings—somewhat experimental. It’s time consuming and I have to remember what brushes and brush attributes I’ve used on the pieces (screen shots are very helpful). I’m looking forward to the summer term being over so I can move forward with these projects. I’m forever trying to stretch what I can accomplish in PhotoShop and still stay in a somewhat realistic zone.

How does being a woman impact your work?

I think being a woman has impacted my work in much the same ways that it has impacted other aspects of my life. Expectations for whom and what I was supposed to be…artist certainly wasn’t a part of that language. As women, we have expectations placed on us all of our lives—expectations that have little to do with our own purpose. My earliest memory of wanting to create something and seeing my gender as an obstacle was when my Dad was in his woodshop with my brother and they were making something. I believe I was 7 years old and asked to learn how to use some of the tools so I could make something, too. Well, that didn’t go over very well, to say the least. “Tools aren’t for girls” “Go play with your dolls”… or something to that effect. I remember feeling completely powerless and being very deeply disturbed by it. It was the first time that I wished I wasn’t a girl. The only other time I remember wishing this was in high school when I wanted to take shop, but I was only allowed to take home-ec, so I could learn how to take care of other people instead of myself. I pursued art throughout my life—jewelry, glass, illustration—but I always approached it with the idea of making money from it, which is one reason I became a graphic artist. I wasn’t able to give myself permission to create art just for the sake of creating it.

Much of my art draws on the feminine. I guess flowers are considered “feminine”, but it’s more than that. I think in many ways, it’s about taking my power back. Perhaps even as far as taking my photos into PhotoShop and manipulating them… maybe it’s a need to control the process—not the outcome, but how I go about creating. It’s something I wasn’t able to do before.

If you had the opportunity to address a group of young girls, what would you say to inspire them?

I would want to convey to them that when and if someone tells them that they can’t do something because they’re a girl, to not take it to heart… to not let it stop them.  I would want them to understand that they each have something to offer to the world and being a girl/woman can enhance that offering, rather than to limit it. Whether they strive to be an artist or a scientist, they may have to work harder to overcome the gender boundaries, but it’ll be worth the journey. I would urge them to give their passion a voice and listen to it. If they feel an urge to create—just do it—without expectation, without an end in sight—just do it.

Don’t forget to follow the blog and/or leave a comment to join the conversation.  The more we share, the more we learn and grow.

To find out more about Roka, visit her website at http://ImagesByRoka.com

or like her on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ImagesByRoka