Artist chat with international student advisor Marianna Abutalipova

How women, dancers and vibrant followers inspire one local artists works.

The reasons that artists make art differ for each individual, and through this new and ongoing series, we want to explore them all. The Omega is interested in talking to diverse local artists at TRU and across Kamloops to discuss the complexities of art, why people make art and how it affects the artist and the viewer.

For many artists, the ways in which they discover inspiration can be as diverse, unique and different as the works they create. Marianna Abutalipova, an international student advisor at TRU, uses her experiences with dancing and travel to create colourful paintings and collages. Her paintings are often inspired by women, dancers and vibrant flowers. Abutalipova’s childhood and personal experiences have played a large role in forming the shapes, textures and colours she uses in her art. 

For most of her life, Abutalipova would have been what she considers “a traveller.” Her journey as an artist developed through her experiences with various cultures, but it started in Uzbekistan, where she was born. 

“When I was little, my relative — sister of my grandfather — was from Kazakhstan. She was the first female art journalist in Kazakhstan and so she had many books of artists and she gave many to us. I think when I was little, I started looking at the books, and somehow, before I knew [it], I was drawing. I still remember the first book that was my inspiration; it was [by] Nadya Ruscheva. She’s a Russian artist … she died when she was very young, I think at 16 or 17,” Abutalipova said. “She was drawing a lot from Greek mythology but also from some authors, writers, lots of dancers, ballerinas. I have this book now at home, but this was kind of my [first] inspiration.”

The flow and form of dance inspire Abutalipova’s works. She said she takes the most inspiration from belly dancing, ballet, and her previous history as a rhythmic dancer. Abutalipova simultaneously practiced visual arts and dancing in her youth and believes that the reason she frequently paints women dancing is that she was surrounded by both forms of art while growing up.

In her paintings, Abutalipova enjoys creating images of women, flowers and the art of dance. Abutalipova says that she sees so much beauty in dancing and the graceful form of all women. 

“Women’s bodies, they’re like flowers,” Abutalipova said. “It doesn’t matter what shape the woman has; there is something in it that fascinates me… I would compare [women] to flowers. There are so many different flowers, and every flower is beautiful. They have times when they are more beautiful than during other times. Sometimes, they open up; sometimes, they are closed. They have different colours… I think it’s the same with women. All women are beautiful. I can see it in all of them, and that’s what I like to capture.”

Painting in neutrals is something Abutalipova has struggled with. She has found that painting with bright colours is more representative of the image she aims to create and the feelings she wants to evoke in viewers. 

“Sometimes I’m a little afraid when people look at my art, they [may] feel like there is a lot of everything going on. It might be overwhelming, but some people say that’s what they like about it, the combination of the colours, it’s so vibrant. Somebody [once] told me, ‘Marianna always paints, [she] always motivates people,’” Abutalipova said. “I guess I like to make people happy and to inspire them so when they look at something, they feel good, it makes them feel happy. I think that is what I like to represent [in] my art.”

“Precious” by Marianna Abutalipova

Abutalipova has found inspiration in BC after moving here in 2008. The landscapes of Kamloops and the students she meets as an International Student Advisor here at TRU inspire her to paint and get creative. She believes BC is her forever home and will continue to be inspired by the surrounding nature and people. 

If you are a local artist and would like to talk about the arts and your work, please contact the Omega’s Arts Editor, Augustus Holman, by email at or by phone at 250-351-9676.