Meet Irina Smulevich – Towne Post Network
A local artist and teacher looks back on her journey
Photographer / Justin Sicking
At WestClay Village, Irina Smulevich is a valued friend and multi-talented artist who owns Carmel Art Education Studio. But to many of her young students, she is simply known as Miss Irina.
“When I have new students, I always introduce this place as my second home,” she says. “So I tell them, ‘Now, he‘It’s also your second home.’”
His pride for the students is evident in the collection of their work which hangs on the walls. She knows the story of each artist intimately – a prosecutor, a Marine, an engineer and a friend on chemotherapy, among others.
“I love when my students see that they can achieve something they never thought they could,” she says. “Some artists think that expressing themselves is all they can do, but for me the satisfaction of teaching sometimes exceeds the need to paint for myself.
In total, Irina teaches 15 classes including five for children and 10 for adults. Classes are a judgment-free zone where students of all ages can express their creativity in a friendly and diverse environment. However, at some point, she could‘I can’t imagine teaching someone in English. When she emigrated to Dallas, Texas from Moscow in 1993, she knew only one sentence in English: “Hello, my name is Irina.
With her Masters in Fashion Fine Arts from the prestigious Moscow Textile Academy, she entered the American workforce with an artistic background. “It helped me in the beginning, when I was basically speechless, to come back to fine art and express myself in color,” she says.
Her work took her from Dallas to New York via Frederick, Maryland. Along the way, she mastered English through intense practice that included lectures and lots of classic literature, which she greatly enjoys. She also had a son, Jacob, with whom she moved to northern Indianapolis in 2008.
At first his family lived in one of the Carmel‘s neighboring communities. Then she visited an arts festival in downtown Carmel and fell in love. “The architecture just reminded me of Frederick,” she says. She and Jacob moved to Carmel and never looked back.
Irina taught at the Indianapolis Art Center for a decade. Although her students felt like family, she always dreamed of owning her own studio. With the encouragement and support of her students and friends, she finally opened Carmel Art Education Studio on February 12, 2018.
“I could‘I wouldn’t have done it without support, but I also worked very, very hard for it,” she says. “This studio is my dream come true.
The day she moved in, 32 from Irina‘s students and supporters showed up to help move supplies and build offices. They ordered a Greek pizza‘s and coffee from Zing! Coffee. Neighbors stopped by to introduce themselves and learn her story.
This story inspires many, including Jacob, who inherited his incredible drive and passion for teaching. At just 25 years old, he is the head coach of the Charlotte Rush Premier Hockey League team in Charlotte, North Carolina. He calls his mother before and after every game he coaches. “My mother supported me at every stage of my career,” he says. “When I think of everything she‘s face and the people she‘s impacted, it is easy to get through the difficult days.
From day one, The Village of WestClay has been a blessing to Irina. “Seeing how they‘I kissed her, he‘that’s all i‘I knew her‘is always deserved,” says Jacob.
WestClay’s tight-knit community is kind to small businesses because “everyone really knows each other,” says Irina. “This‘it’s so nice when you‘walk down the street and people greet you by name.
During the COVID-19 shutdowns, her students stopped by during their normal class hours and waved through her studio windows. To support her when classes were impossible, the WestClay president posted a message that residents could hire her to draw and paint pictures of their homes. In response, people lined up outside to order his work. “It’s this support that has helped me keep my school alive,” she says.
Now her neighbors are rallying behind her again. Irina was born in Odessa, Ukraine, and still has family in the area.
“The support of my homeland from the community has been overwhelming,” she says. In her window hang Ukrainian and American flags printed for her by her neighbor, owner of The Village Barber.
“This‘It’s a small gesture but one that means so much,” she adds.
Carmel Art Education Studio is located at 12749 Meeting House Road, Suite 120 in Carmel. Visit carmelartedstudio.com for the full art class schedule, or call 301-693 3827.