**click portrait to enlarge**
(collage and oil painting on cardboard, 24X48, 2009)
"My name is Phoenix"
At twelve I painted a picture I called "My name is Phoenix". Back then, I found my own name 'Natasha' somewhat bla. On top of that, I lived my whole childhood knowing that it was an afterthought on the part of my parents. For the first month of my life I remained a nameless baby girl and my parents finally chose 'Natasha' only after they got tired of calling me "Baby Girl". As my mom explained to me it just seemed like a good, neutral name to give a female child. They originally wanted to call me 'Julia' or 'Alina', but I wasn't born attractive enough for either.
So in my prepubescent identity search I started dreaming of a name good enough for my confused prepubescent ego. At the same time I also came up with a concept that a correctly-chosen name had the power to shape, as well as to steer a person's destiny in the right direction.
Years later while reading passages from the Dead Sea Scrolls I found a very similar concept described in "The Gospel of Truth". The idea there was that a person must receive 'his own name' which will become his true identity. Later yet, I found the same idea in Paulo Coelho's "The fifth mountain". In my somewhat idealized vision of the world I chose to believe that if different people at different times come up with the same idea – the idea must be true. It makes sense to me why certain ideas that are true to the Universe could be sensed by people on a subconscious level. Why else, while cultures and religions change, certain ideas remain the same throughout history?
But I digress... Eighteen years after the first self-portrait as Phoenix I felt compelled to do it over. By then I have fell apart and put myself together so many times that I actually did feel like a magical creature able to emerge from its own ashes. ...so, as I was painting my Phoenix self-portrait, I started wondering whether it was possible that a twelve-year-old me somehow managed to bless me with this wonderful ability to overcome anything in life by choosing "Phoenix" as my true name?
"But no one can lose sight of what he desires. Even if there are moments when he believes the world and the others are stronger. The secret is this: do not surrender."
"It's best to have failure happen early in life. It wakes up the Phoenix bird in you so you rise from the ashes."