“I would say I’m poetic, precise, and present,” says Tasya van Ree. Boiling the self down to only three words is a daunting task, but, sitting in her Los Angeles home/studio, Tasya responds immediately, exuding confidence and a sense of calm most of us could spend our entire lives trying to emulate. She even manages to prove all three points with her alliterative and deliberate statement.
One of the many elements that attracted us to Tasya was her strong sense of self, made all the more impressive by her somewhat shy demeanor and claim to multiple personalities. Dark, mysterious, warm, kind, creative, wise. We don’t have as easy a time confining her curious spirit to three words. So here are over 1000 of her own that should offer more insight into the artist—and even these may not do her justice.
On the places she’s called home.
I feel like California is a very prolific piece of land. I think there is open space here, and I feel like that open space allows you to breathe. There is a stillness and a certain sense of creativity here. I don’t feel like I really gave it a chance and understood the depth of it until recently. I’ve always let life take control of me and I just follow it, but now I feel like now I’m more in control and really understanding my connection to nature and to this other world that California offers.
Being born and raised in Hawaii, I feel like there’s this really intense vibration apparent there, and to transfer that energy to California and then have California’s own energy…I feel like I’m in this elevated state of mind right now. In order for artists to really be able to create, I think they have to have life on this different level to also give life to a piece of art.
I mostly surf when I go back to Hawaii. One of the reasons why surfing is such a powerful part of my life is because you can really indulge in the unknown of nature. You go into the ocean and you are not in your own. Just to be surrounded by pure nature and not to have control, I think that’s a really powerful position to put yourself in.
You have to be extremely intelligent in the way you interact with the unfamiliar and to have confidence and the understanding that the ocean something that you can never understand. You can understand sets and waves and positioning, but I feel like it’s also a microscopic representation of life. It’s like you have to know where to put yourself in certain situations, you have to be able to read something in the distance—like what’s coming and the sets that are rolling in—and where you position yourself within that…it’s unlike anything else. But it’s also calming.
On the reoccurring themes of nature and wildlife in her art.
Right now I’m really focusing on horses. A friend of mine plays polo and she really introduced me to them; that’s where I fell in love with these majestic creatures that are extremely deep. There is this sense of the unknown with horses, and I was really attracted to that. I really wanted to use that as a focus point and build a narrative in my own language and create a whole new world within my art.
On exploring various mediums.
I feel like I’m accessing different parts of my brain and personality when I draw or paint as opposed to photography and as opposed to writing. I feel like sometimes you can see that within my art. They are so different but also there is this underlying consistency that’s apparent throughout all my work. I’m really trying to create this language, my own language and it’s hard to just use one medium to tell the story. I feel like with the mixed media it’s a little easier to create this whole universe as opposed to just a one-dimensional world.
On her organization, Women with Super Powers.
I wanted to create a world where we honored and celebrated and empowered women as artists, as healers, as activists, as entrepreneurs. There are so many different angles you can take when you empower women from feminism. I wanted to come it at a really creative artistic angle. It started off as a photo series based on capturing women in their element. I started it with a friend of mine, who is also a photographer and is also extremely conscious and cosmic. We just wanted to create this platform for the feminine.
We also just did an event in which we showcased one woman’s short films during a dinner series. It’s kind of branching out into events, and we’re still continuing with the portraits and may probably soon open that up into an exhibit or book. It’s just blossoming into this whole different realm of infinite possibilities. We’re trying to bring it back down and really focus, but it’s based on creating a community of women and empowering and celebrating and honoring women in that creative context.
On art and social justice.
I took a trip to Standing Rock to see and to actually be a part of the protest and be amongst the people who were really standing up and fighting the fight. I thought it was really important to indulge in that energy and absorb whatever it was that can’t really be explained. I created some pieces of art for Standing Rock just as a meditation on my experience and also to show other people that were unable to be there the feeling that was present. Now [the artwork] lives its own life and it’s being transferred and bringing awareness and raising money for the cause. It’s kind of like it has a life of its own.
On the possibilities of personal style.
I’ve always had a curious and creative spirit. A lot of curiosity—I think that’s another key element to have if you are an artist. I’ve always been involved in a creative outlet, whether it’s through wardrobe, styling, or design. Fashion is just another element, another voice, another personality within the overall world of being an artist. And now with my photography and art, I’m trying to bring all worlds together and create one cohesive body of work.
On the purpose of art.
I feel like art should really ignite someone to actually feel through a very specific prism, which is through the creative spirit as opposed to emotion. I feel like everyone needs their heart to be opened and just be able to really feel freely. You can really expand, and the world is expanding and the universe is expanding so why not expand with it?