Breckenridge artist Yana Chikiris establishing herself in local art scene
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Interested in Breckenridge artist Yana Chikiris’ work? Contact her at (630) 484-6511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A water leak at Meta Yoga Studio on Ridge Street in Breckenridge might have spelled disaster for the studio’s wood floors, but a little bit of ingenuity and faith turned an unfortunate circumstance into a stroke of serendipity.
The roughly square section of damaged floor was central to the room, and Meta co-founders Leslie Ross and Jason Rodon installed a temporary piece of plywood to cover the space until the floor could be repaired. The floor plays a major role in practicing yoga, and the studio decided that a mural would be a perfect way to heal the space.
“Leslie came to me and said, ‘I’ve been thinking, with all of the art you’ve been doing, I’d really like you to paint the floor,’” said Yana Chikiris, who practices at Meta.Karma project
Chikiris is what Meta calls a “karma” yogi, part of a work-exchange program where members engage with the yoga community by working in the studio and deepening their own practices, in exchange for a studio pass. Chikiris worked out a vision with Rodon for the damaged floor space, and the final design for the piece unfolded over the three days it took her to create it.
“It was kind of an accident,” Chikiris said of the final installation. “I initially had planned on something else. I recently designed a snowboard with ohm signs floating up, but the colors were more of a dark blue and grays and starry night. The more I looked at the space, I didn’t know if it was going to be too much.”
The artist swapped the darker palette for a warmer one, picking up the lighter tones of the walls and tapestries in the studio and incorporating the om sign, along with a sunburst-inspired fade. Chikiris worked on the piece in the evenings after the studio was closed, painting until 2 a.m. after finishing her shifts at her other job as a server at Twist. The result is inspirational, drawing people into the room, Ross said.
“I love coming in there,” Ross said. “When it was done, I was actually out of town and got pictures and was so excited. People love it; they are excited about it. It ties in the whole space and brings an incredible vibrancy to the space.”
The finished mural showcases the syllable om, the sacred sound of meditation that represents the vibration and frequency of life and everything we share as humans with nature and every other living being, Chikiris said. The central symbol also serves to represent how becoming part of the Meta community has changed the artist’s life.
“It was kind of a donation from me to them because I didn’t really want anything in return for it because I wanted them to see what the studio and what the community means to me, and I wanted to give back to them,” Chikiris said.
Ross said Chikiris has really come into her own through the personal reflection attained through her yoga practice, and the painting is an extension of that.
“It’s tough in the mountains,” Ross said. “You have a lot of distractions, especially as a young woman — a lot of things going on, a lot of jobs to juggle. It’s been amazing to watch her grow and sprout and see her wings spread, and I know that yoga has been a big influence on that. … It’s been wonderful to watch her.
“She’s a very gifted person, a very giving person, a very lovely woman, and we’re so glad to have her as a part of our community.”
GROWING AS AN ARTIST
Chikiris said she began painting more consistently in the past two years, but she really amped up her creative output after attending a friend’s art show last year through Raw Artists, an independent arts organization. Chikiris was introduced to the show’s director, who encouraged her to build an inventory to display at the next Raw Artists show.
“I grew up drawing, and my sister always painted,” she said. “I’d always been inspired by her work more so than my own. I didn’t start pursing it at all until I moved here. I had a few pieces that I would start but I would never finish. … With Raw Artists, luckily, it was mud season, and I didn’t have much going on, so I locked myself in my house and painted for eight weeks, or whatever it was.”
Finding the focus to concentrate on her art largely came from practicing yoga, which allowed Chikiris to open up and get in touch with herself, breaking away from everything else. She said she is grateful for the positive impact yoga has had on her life.
“I started realizing what it is that I enjoy doing in life,” she said. “And it opened up that window for me to paint. If it weren’t for yoga and that practice in this community, it wouldn’t have really happened, so it kind of came full circle for me.”
Though she generally works in acrylic with an abstract style, Chikiris said she has been stepping into different zones, incorporating mixed media and found items into more of her pieces. Through her job at Twist, she was chosen as a featured artist at the restaurant’s culinary counterpart, Relish, where she currently has about a dozen pieces on display.
“I’m doing something that I love, finally,” she said of her artwork. “It’s not just a job. I’m not necessarily doing it to get paid; it’s just something that I find an extreme amount of joy and pleasure in doing, just like yoga, snowboarding, being out here. It doesn’t feel like a job, it doesn’t feel like work — it’s fulfillment.”
The artist said it’s been a big eye opener to discover who she is and not to fear failure or disappointment, to really dig deep and figure out what it is that she loves and fully pursue it.
“Just the steps that I have taken in the last year have really changed my life for the better, and I am really grateful for that,” she said. “I wish for others to step out of their comfort zones and shoot for what it is that they love in life.”
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