In The Spotlight

By Darlene L. Williams, Contributing Writer

Born in 1983 in a small town south of Russia, Victoria Kravtsova-Porter always felt a strong connection to her Russian culture and heritage. So, having a deep appreciation and love for the arts, especially music, could be expected from the Kravtsova family since they were all musically inclined.

“My father taught classical guitar at the university,” Kravtsova said. “He was also my teacher and taught me to play guitar”.

“It was great playing guitar until my father starting giving me difficult pieces to learn,” she said.

One summer when Victoria was around the age of 14, her father went away for a while on vacation and left her with instructions to learn a musical piece while he was away. However, due to the difficulty of the piece, Victoria picked up a pencil and paper and began to draw instead.

Over that summer, Victoria began painting people for fun and soon found out that she had discovered a newly found gift that she would be passionate about for years to come.

“I lived next door to a park, she said, and I began drawing people sitting on benches in the park”. I always liked people’s faces, they were so interesting.”

“Every face had a story that was so interesting to me. It was easy to draw old people because they were easy to talk to, Kravtsova said. “After I finished drawing the people, I would give them the picture.”

When Victoria’s father returned home, she hadn’t learned the musical piece, but he could not deny the fact that his daughter’s drawings were quite special, so special, that he took Victoria’s paintings to a friend of his; a professional painter who recognized and confirmed Kravtsova’ talent.

Victoria’s sketches and desire to draw afforded her an opportunity to be enrolled and accepted into Art School where she accelerated and finished 2 years ahead of the 4 year program.

Because the painting supplies, canvasses, and an apartment (to be closer to the art school) were so expensive, the Kravtsova family could not afford the tuition for Victoria to continue in the art school. She rerouted her life to the Literature Institute, graduated, and started working as an editor in television.

“I forgot about painting until I moved to the United States , she said. “By then I was almost 27 years old, in a new country, having problems finding a job, and finding my place.

But finding her place in a black community would soon rekindle the love she had for painting. Her passion resurfaced when she moved to Brooklyn, New York in 2010.

“I was scared, from another country, and didn’t speak the language well, but the Black community welcomed me and showed me love” Victoria said.

“My way of saying “thank you” to that community was through my paintings,” said Victoria. “I was probably one of seven white people in that community and they embraced us. My husband, Gregory, was so patient with me and helped me to blend in and feel part of the black community as well.”

Moving to Brooklyn, New York; helped to shape the style and subjects for Kravtsova’ paintings, which are mostly of African- American people.

The African-American community in Bedford-Stuyvesant, in Brooklyn inspired her to create a series of portraits of black people called, “Black Angels”.

“I want to show with my art how beautiful black skin and black people are,’’ she said. “ I have been blessed with a beautiful family, who happen to be black. I have a lot of portraits of my beautiful nieces, who are black, and of course my husband, Gregory.”

“One other very important reason why I paint black people, Victoria said, is because unfortunately, we still live in a society where some people still feel that black people and black skin is not beautiful, and I totally disagree with that.”

“That’s really how I feel; it’s true, she said.

Victoria Kravtsova-Porter is an artist, a mother, and married to Bakersfield native; songwriter; and Grammy Award winner; Gregory Porter. In 2015, Victoria was recognized by the International Jury MASTER OF ART INTERNATIONAL Art Exhibition Awards in London in the following categories: Best Fine Art and Best Portrait. In 2017, her trilogy, “Black Angels” was selected to be a part of exhibit UN SEUL GRAIN DE RIZ in Paris. Victoria’s was chosen as

Artist of the Month for her ”Black is Beautiful” collection which was showcased at the Bakersfield Art Association Art Center Gallery.

“Black is Beautiful” is a collection of portraits dedicated to the beauty of black people. It’s a tribute to black skin. Women, men, children, celebrities and random people—every shade of black is beautiful!”