We had the good fortune of connecting with Izabela Ołdak and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Izabela, we’d love to hear what makes you happy.
Making art makes me happy. Since I could hold a pen or pencil, I started to draw, later on to paint. All my education was art oriented. Art become my way of expression, my way of life, my occupation and my work. When I paint, draw or make tattoos I can totally merge with what I am doing. My ego is vanishing, and I can be in this amazing state of mind, that brings me happiness, calmness, focus and satisfaction.
I also can get the same effect when I play music (mainly Tibetan bowls, gong, shamanic drum, mouth harp and rattles)
Being in nature also makes me happy, so as playing with animals.
I love life, all the beauty of the world, the landscape, sun rises, sun sets, elements, there is so much beauty in the world that can make me happy, that can make me shine, and relax.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
So many questions 🙂 Ok let’s try to answer them. I express myself in paintings and mural art, drawings, site-specific installations. I play music, I paint instruments. I make performances with costumes and choreography. I make tattoos with special intention. I make workshops, events, exhibitions. I worked as a curator, and I was initiator and curator of Artist-in-residence program in Bielsko-Biała in Poland. I even made a residency program in the Philippines.
I believe that with knowledge of the past, comes understanding of the present. In order to discover the essence of creation and the primal role of an artist, I found it necessary to go back to its roots. Therefore, I research cave art, native art, folk art, mythology and old beliefs. After deep research I discovered that in the deepest dimension Art comes from transcendental experiences and magic (cave art from Paleolithic and Neolithic era) There were times when human life was connected to the natural environment and when the Arts were considered spiritual, magical, a secret language used in many rituals and rites. It has been associated with the exploration of the soul and the secrets of Nature; and originates from a deep need of trying to understand the world, possess the powers
of animals and plants. After these discoveries I directed my research towards the mythologies, animistic, shamanistic and ancient cultures. This led me to my spiritual development through art, not only by creating it, but becoming art itself in performances which took the form of symbolic actions and rituals. It increased my sensitivity and empathy, so as the connection to the land, the Nature.
For 11 years now I walk on shamanic path, learning the most ancient, and old healing techniques, and the way of living connected to the natural cycle of life.
As a result, all my artistic creations with time merge with my spiritual path. Everything I do, either it is a painting, a tattoo, or a drum, is done with intention of goodness, and honor to the Great Spirit. I think that this makes my art different from others.
To get to the place where I am, that means to be an established artist, that finally is not complaining about the money, took me a lot of time.
The story started from my passion to create. Seeing that, my parents let me go to Art high school. I graduated from Art Academy in Poznań in Poland, where I also went for Socrates-Erasmus exchange to Nottingham Trent University in UK. My MFA I get at the Dutch Art Institute in Enschede in the Netherlands.
I participated in tens of exhibitions, biennial, symposia, workshops, residency programs, lectures. I was traveling widely, spreading my art, knowing other cultures and getting inspiration from.
All of this was not so easy. There was even a time, when I lived in the back of my studio, and took bath at the bowl, because the place didn’t even have a shower. But I never give up.
I know that my art is coming from my heart, that this makes me happy, that makes me alive, that has a meaning for me. So I was going on and on.
In harder times, to survive I was using my artistic skills to paint murals, to paint the surface of drums, and round rattles. I was working with children and adults, conducting workshops, or I was making exhibitions and working as a curator making exhibitions and events for other artist, collaborating with galleries and art institutions. I was presenting my art in many alternative festivals, where hundreds of people could see my work. Finally, I started to make tattoos, because this also could rise my artistic skills, and bring money. When I develop so much different things out of this talent, I could finally relax financially.
If I would not face all those difficulties, I would never develop so much in so many directions. Looking back, I am so grateful for all what I experienced. That makes my life so rich, and my experiences so deep. And what I learned more is that it is not bad to doubt but never give up this, what warms your heart, calms your mind, make you and others smile and brings beauty to this world.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Now I live in a very little mountain city, in a big house with a garden. I have here all what I need. The street where I love ends in woods, and If you would go the other way and cross the big road, you would get to the river. The house is one big gallery that I called The Portal of Power, because everyone who come here can have some inner journeys and great guidance.
I love to cook vegetarian food as well for my guests, but when we want to go to some great vegan and vegetarian restaurants, we can drive to Kraków, that is just 50 km away. There is so much to see in that city.
But from my place I would definitely take the visitors for a long walk in the forests, we could even go to the highest top of the mountain called Babia Góra, that has 1725 meters above the sea. The best is to go at night, to see the sun rise from there. I also love nearby lake where you can swim, or take a boat.
Usually I love everything connected to nature and wild life. So not much a city girl anymore 🙂
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Behind my success are many people. My parents, friends, my teachers, professors, artist that I admire, exhibitions that I saw, and participated to. All my trips and journeys, legends, myths, that open my mind, so as many spiritual experiences like shamanic ceremonies, shamanic journeys to other realms, Sweat lodge, Vipassana Meditation Retreat, near-death experience. Huge amount of books that I have read, from which I can truly recommend to everyone “Mahabharata”, that become my encyclopedia of moral choices and it’s results. Every day opens new possibilities, and success is the result of all my actions, experiences, relations, determination, passion, talent and luck.
Izabela Ołdak Marcin Szendoł Katarzyna Łukasiewicz