"I was born in Cherepovets, Russia, to a military family of several generations just before the collapse of the Soviet Union. My family eventually relocated back to Ukraine, where we are originally from and I still have many beautiful memories of growing up there. From a very early age, I was influenced by passionate, creative individuals. My mother was a fashion designer and my earliest artistic inspirations were her design drawings. My aunt was a musician, she was my first musical inspiration and what sparked my desire to play the piano. My grandmother was a singer, dancer, and a nurse. At age 6, after the divorce of my parents, my mother and I made the move to America, to New York City. Having been accustomed to an abundance of nature, Brooklyn was quite the contrast. My environment became condensed, consumed by buildings, concrete, cars, and noise. My first experiences with school were a bit of a struggle. I couldn't speak English, some kids weren't the nicest, I didn't have friends, and my family was across the globe. Adapting however, got easier with time. At school, I learned English very quickly and was taken out of the English Second Language program in less than a year. I made friends and was always the "artist" in my class. My mother and I also did quite a bit of traveling around the east coast of the US and I was exposed to many inspiring museums and important historical monuments. American influence was inevitable, but my culture and background was always very important to me, I never let that part of me fade away. I still speak, read, and write in my native language, and stay connected to my culture.
I can't recall a specific point in my life when I turned to art. My family tells me I've been doodling since I learned how hold a pencil, before I could even form full sentences (the walls and some documents quickly fell victim to my creative endeavors), art is just what I've always done and who I was. I experimented with landscapes and nature for the first time at the age of 8 with chalk and pencils. I also discovered Bob Ross on TV and found myself with an uncontrollable need to paint. My first painting attempts were mostly scenic views of sunsets, mountains, trees, and snow painted with watercolor and acrylic with the occasional still life. Water made many appearances in the form of oceans, ponds, lakes, often containing reflections and distortions of its surrounding imagery. Perhaps it was an escape into the natural world I missed dearly and lacked in my city environment. Around this time I enrolled in dance school and studied ballet, jazz, and modern. The stage, costumes, music, lights, endless training hours, and entire performer's atmosphere became a second home to me. Dancing was simply another means of expression and enjoyment, I danced for many years. Into my early teens, I learned about digital art and began creating illustrations of invented characters, places, graphics, as well as drawing comics and spriting a few character props for a small MMORPG. During this time I turned to music. With the help of the internet, a brand new keyboard, and a thirst for making beautiful sound out of silence, I began teaching myself how to play the piano." ~Lena Danya
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