Born in Kyiv, Ukraine, Anya Mironets Keyes moved to the United States when she was 16. Her family has lived in Ukraine for 14 generations.
“When I moved to the U.S. I was a junior in high school,” she said. “I didn’t speak English then and to get enough credits to graduate I took as many art classes as possible because I didn’t have to speak. My AP art teacher taught me fundamentals and instilled in me the idea that I could be an artist one day.”
Being a first-generation immigrant, a career in arts was not a reliable choice, so she studied and became a pharmacist. Nonetheless, Keyes continued pursuing her art, creating paintings in oils and watercolors, centered around her Ukrainian identity.
Her experiences as a first-generation immigrant, a foreign-born mother, friend and American citizen are expressed in her atmospheric paintings, the most recent of which feature images of her fellow Ukrainians.
“I enjoy the creativity and solitude that comes with art,” she said. “It’s meditative and restorative. It truly is the best fit for me.”
When the war in Ukraine erupted, she felt helpless watching the senseless devastation of her home country and decided to create a body of work and donate all proceeds to help volunteer groups in Ukraine, especially in underserved areas. Her portraits, mostly of women, are currently available for purchase.
For more information, visit AnyaKeyes.com or visit the Blind Insect Gallery, 2841 NE Alberta St.
Michel Reeverts, aka Maquette, holds a master of arts degree in art education and serves Alberta Art Works as director and Alberta Street Gallery as a board member. She is also a practicing artist. Contact her at Maquette@AlbertaArtWorks.org