Episode 70: Iryna Kanishcheva
Our co-hosts might not be able to pronounce her name, but Iryna Kanishcheva is changing the face of Gainesville one mural at a time.
After saying goodbye to her home country of Ukraine and her career in pharmaceuticals, Iryna traveled the country looking for local street art. Eventually she landed in Gainesville and decided this town needed some color.
She quickly developed 352walls, a public art initiative with the goal of turning Gainesville into an art hub and cultural destination. In 2015 Iryna founded GNV URBAN ART LLC to help muralists and property owners find each other, and in 2018 she obtained her official registration as an LLC. Though she never intended to turn this passion into a career, she’s managed urban art projects all over the country and even internationally.
“You literally changed the face of the community and [made] it an art hub,” Collin told her.
Iryna has had a hand in almost every mural in Gainesville. GNV URBAN ART LLC aims to find a canvas and create a connection between the property owner and the artist. She handles communication and contracts between the artist and property owner as well as gathers all the materials needed to carry out the project.
“I try for artists to find jobs and get paid. People offer good exposure and really little money to get a piece for their business and then promote their business using artists,” she explained.
These murals serve to benefit the community above all else. Each piece has its own implications and its own power to incite social change. Urban art is meant to educate the community and act as a call to action. At the very least, it’s meant to get people talking.
“This is the power of street art, to ask questions, to inspire some dialogue.”
Iryna has a lot of big things in the works. She recently received her first grant from the Florida Department of Cultural Affairs. She plans to use the grant to complete a project about 10 of the most interesting urban art destinations in Florida. The final project will result in a row of articles and a final exhibition here in Gainesville aiming to educate the community about what Florida’s urban art scene has to offer.
In addition, she’s working on a book about the business aspects of street art, hoping to educate artists about this very new industry they’ve entered. In getting her MBA from UF she was inspired to apply her new knowledge to the realm of urban art and share it with the world. Keep an eye out for it this September.