Wednesday, June 11, 2014


What is your name? 

Jana Brike

Where are you from?

I was born in Riga, Latvia.

Where do you live?

I still live in Riga.

When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?

wrote in my pre-school finishing papers that I will be a painter when I grow up. I was 5 at the time. So that was decided.

Who influenced you 
as an artist?

I consider just life and how I perceive it my main major influence for everything I do as an artist.

What is your favorite medium?

Mostly it is oil painting. I am very fond of the process – seeing how a visual story I have imagined slowly starts to breathe under my hand. But in general, medium doesn’t matter to me. It all depends on the story I want to tell.

Do you have a studio? Where is it?

I have a home studio in Riga, Latvia.

When did you become a mother?

When I was 25. My boy just turned 8.

Midsummer's eve in the Latvian countryside 

What are your challenges as a mother artist?

I love my life. I love my job. And I love being mother to my son who is one of most sincere and wise beings, easy to be with, of all I have encountered in my entire life. So in relation to that, all challenges are minor only.But I do understand the question and what it implies. So, yes, society is a challenge. The survival mode it’s been in.We have enough technologies and means {taking into account all the resources that are still spent on warfare worldwide} to have a society everywhere in which bare survival is not an issue to anyone regardless of what, where, how and if one works or not. I have a great faith that we grow up mentally and ethically to live that.

For eons we have been living in a society model that is completely masculine thinking based – purposeful and determined, but where just the fittest survive, the competition and hierarchy is everywhere, and the weak are trampled down while the strongest climb the pyramid. And every pyramid collapses sooner or later, to give place to a steeper one. Most of the feminist movements try to compete within the same model of thinking, and often just look funny in the end. While our input should be quite the opposite – the world is just so thirsty for the feminine, motherly model of thinking. Where society operates as a family. Where a disabled child is no less valuable than a youngster with a doctor degree, just because they are both part of the whole, and loved exactly because they are what they are. Where every single person deserves a slice of bread with honey, a hug and a lullaby in the evening just because they exist, just because they are all family.So I refuse to discuss how mother artists can better compete within the existing dysfunctional model. But I can quite gladly talk about how we can find love within ourselves, for the self and the others, and how to regain dignity and see your own individual value for just being what we are.

What has been the driving force behind keeping a balance between being a mother and an artist?

You formulate the question quite upside down! (smile) Being in a balance is the initial thing!! And when I am balanced and strong in my integrity, there is no  problem to keep outer balance between any roles and tasks in life.You know, it’s a lot like what you see in those airplane safety instructions: when the pressure drops, help yourself with the oxygen mask before being of assistance to anybody else.Wild walks in woods help best for me. The city noises disappear and all you do is listen to the lullaby your soul sings to your own personal inner child day and night: “I love you”. There is nothing else of greater importance to know about your own self.

When do you spend time making art?

I work full working days, and often more.

Attending art events with four month old Adam in Japan

How many children do you have?
 Do you want more?

I have one.I’m not quantity orientated. One is more than a billion to me.

Have you ever considered giving up art in order to be a mother?

Oh, why would I want to consider how to limit my life experiences, I’m interested just in expanding them! I am not just a mother and an artist, I’ve been also a lover, a friend and a wife, a landlady and a vagabond, and all kinds of other roles, all of them enriching and full of strong emotion. And I would never consider giving up one of them!What could I teach to a child if I wouldn’t have a wide array of all kinds of life-giving intimate creative experiences of my own? And from the other side, what kind of “artist” would I be if I took all other deep emotion, motherhood including, out of my life? What would I even talk about through my art? I don’t really “raise” my child, we just both grow together. He likes to have a lot of adventures of his own, and I do too, and then we meet and share.Besides, I don’t see my life as assorted into warring separate sections. Being a mother or father is a little piece of art within itself, the way your mind and heart dances with the idea. Creating my world with every breath, thought, word or action is a piece of art. I’d have to cease to exist in order to give up being an artist.

Adam drawing with the exhibition Curator, Thailand 

Do you have support from your family and
friends to keep making art?

I cannot say I grew up in a family that understood and supported my choice of profession. But it has made me stronger and more determined.But right now I am an adult, and make my own choices. Why would I choose to make “friends” and create a “family” with people who don’t approve of me?

Adam's own project - The mighty Leaf Men of Thailand

Do you feel like you are taken seriously as a mother artist?

I’m quite busy enjoying being an artist, and I’m quite busy enjoying being a mother, besides having all kinds of other adventures. I have no time to try to figure out whom other people take seriously and no time to break my head over someone else’s system of values, especially if it obviously doesn’t correspond with mine.

Has becoming a mother influenced your art?

Adam with the painting "Scout"
Every life experience influences my art. It cannot be otherwise. It has definitely influenced me a lot as a person – in becoming stronger, much much more self-sufficient.Actually, my career really started to take sharp turns and flourish when my child was born. Maybe I’ve become more focused in my desires. 

Do you think mother artists are taken seriously in society?

Well, I don’t take seriously the society!! The society takes seriously most ridiculous things while demeaning things that are true deep and beautiful. I have no reason to bother about judgments of society, I have my own core values, and I live quite in peace and harmony with them. 

Drawing with Adam at the dinner table with American and Thai artists, Thailand

What do you say when someone asks “what does your husband do for a living?” are you offended by such a question?

That is so silly. Of course, I would just smile and tell what my husband does for living!! I feel at peace and ease about my experiences, and my life is exciting and creative journey. If someone asks me questions from a place of feeling pompous self-importance, or lack, or superiority, or inferiority, or diffidence, or insecurity – why on earth would I want to join them in their feeling? Why should I lose my alignment, and search for hidden insulting meanings and feel offended?! Of course I would just smile!

Adam with a mask for a project of paintings

What is your story?

It is constantly evolving.

Adam sitting under artwork by artist
Dan Barry
Artery gallery - Thailand 

What have you learned about balancing motherhood and your passions?

Regarding my “life lessons”, I was born and grew up in an occupied country in a totalitarian regime. Some people suffered and lost a lot to be truthful in their creative process, some literally risked their bare lives in order to express their world vision through art, many of my current friends that used to be young artists at the time saw their art, sometimes worth years of their hard work, literally destroyed in front of their eyes by a committee for “conveying the wrong message”! My first lessons in life were how to suppress my passions and voice in order to not just be accepted in a society of distorted values but to survive! So I have most definitely learned there are way more seriously limiting conditions for being an artist than having a wonderful loving smart and dearly loved child in one’s life!!My first undertaking as a young adult was to break free from these teachings.

Thai Breakfast, together with our dear friend and American artist Edward Robin Coronel

What advice can you offer other mother artists about pursuing their passions regardless of their situation?

Life “situations” have no inbuilt pre-existent meaning. YOU give them meaning. So attach a meaning that is beneficial and leads you closer to where you imagine you want to be. Even “this is just temporary” may help in the beginning.Just go play! Roll in grass and laugh!!If your inner child is locked up, abused and repressed, you cannot really hope to know how to treat another human being that you consider “a child”, anyway. Children learn from example, not by what you preach to them. So, stop being so gravely serious about your “situations” and have in your heart that wild dancing happy child you want to see your children to be.

What do you want to be remembered for as an artist?

I don’t have to believe my hype to be able to gift myself to the world.I do not work from necessity to be remembered.It makes me happy beyond words when people acquire my work because it has struck some pure chord within them. It means the world and more to me. And if it is of value to even a single human being, it will sure be remembered with fondness, and is worthy of doing. That is all.

To find out more about Jana Brike and her work please visit :

*** Many thanks to Jana Brike for allowing me to use her photographs for this interview .