Enchantments from the Studio

April 05, 2007

About the Artist

I was born in Estonia, which is where I got my unusual first name of Mai-Liis. The hyphen indicates it is not meant to be separated into two, and it's pronounced "my lease". I have recently changed my name to Chaska, bestowed on me by two different Peruvian shamans.

When I was very little, I made dolls from whatever paper I could find. I made dresses for them, and glued on little bits of feathers and trash found outside using a flour and water paste. I don't remember ever playing with the dolls; it was only about creating them.

As I grew older, I learned to sew and sketch, and at 16, I enrolled in a two-year apprenticeship program in commercial art, and after graduation, made a good living working as an artist doing layout and hand lettering for a very large printer. I had so much fun, that I could hardly believe they paid me, too!

Marriage and 4 children resulted in my switching to the domestic arts, but even before the last child was born, I had turned to clothing design. Long before the concept of small, medium, and large became popular, it was how my loose, vaguely folkloric dresses were sold. I had a large, loyal local following which gave me the confidence to open a boutique. Seamstresses did all the sewing, and I did the fun part.

But, keeping shop gets to be difficult with 4 children whom I did not dare allow in the boutique. Using the same seamstresses, I went freelance out of my home, and designed wardrobes for individuals, as well as costumes for ice skaters, auto racing teams, and theme restaurant employees.

While continuing to work on a BA at Ohio State, I took as many photography and film classes as I did business courses. I loved both! I had two one-artist shows of my photography, and a couple of interesting business management jobs which required creativity but involved no art.

I rediscovered my passion for art when I became my husband's caregiver. I believe this passion saved my sanity if not my life. I allow myself to be led to whatever medium or idea lights my fire, and it's been a surprising, as well as exciting trip. I can't think of anything I would rather be doing! I also love teaching because if there is anything more joyous than creating art, it's empowering others, and especially so when they believe they have no talent.

Recently, I have melded my interest and studies in healing with my passion in art. Life doesn't get much better than that!