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A journey of finding belonging

I was born in Hungary, during the socialist regime. My earliest impression about life in general was that everybody lies. I was adopted by a family and they tried to keep this fact a secret. I went to school with the belief that I was just like everybody else, but the conflicts with other students gave me a rude awakening.



In spite of my good achievements, I was mostly disregarded or excluded. The regime by the Soviet model maintained a fear based society. All these elements made it easy for me to leave the homeland. I applied for refugee status in Germany in 1988. I stayed in Niedersachsen with my family for almost 4 years. After the Berlin wall came down, it understandably ended our chances to stay. We applied to Canada and arrived in Toronto in 1992. This city was my next home for 19 years. I mostly worked in the service industry. It is very difficult to skip a level in the social structure, the society is class based. On the other hand, it was great to see a vast variety of all kinds of people, with different ethnicity, gender or religion. I had a chance to return to school, I studied in a two years program in George Brown College, Toronto and earned my diploma as a community worker in 2011. I enjoyed learning about socio-economics and developed a deep understanding of the vulnerable population. Around this time I had the honour to make friends in the indigenous community.




Joblessness hit me hard again, I could not afford Toronto and I moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba in 2011. I could not imagine, not in my wildest dreams what a change it would be. There are deep, sharp conflicts between rich and poor, white and Indigenous here. It is a culture shock and I am still navigating. Obviously, I don't belong - again. If there's no belonging, I create my own world. about my success I am one of those people who sketches at every meeting. The value of it is disputed, but without the intention to disrespect anybody, I find great comfort in it. I always drew, designed and enjoyed working and creating with my hands. My current survival job allows me time to fulfill these energies.


I found all the local art communities in Winnipeg immediately. I worked for them, I volunteered for them and developed a few new friendships, but in this highly competitive field, I am mostly disregarded. As my coping mechanism through life, I decided to find my own opportunities. I am self taught but have experience in ink, acrylic painting, marker illustrations. I took watercolour courses in GB College. My husband suggested that I should expand my skill set with a drawing tablet. I had a rough start and a lot of frustration to learn digital. It was the beginning of my freelance work, and since, I submit my work internationally when I find an opportunity. I achieved so much with this tool. As a freelancer, I respond to a wide range of topics. These studies lead to future inspirations. Each project has its own challenges and demands, resulting in unchartered territories of subject matters. I am also very thankful for the teachings of the Indigenous people. I learned beading from them. I proudly add this craft to my resume.


The culture in societies is based on customs, labels, stereotypes and myths. The www opened up information that we could not even imagine. Unfortunately, too often, it does not lead to better understanding of each other, but rather the opposite. Abuse of power is often normalized. Small organizations abuse their small power, big ones do theirs. There are too many gifted people who knock on doors in vain. Ethnicity, gender, age or religion that do not fit the mainstream idea is pushed away. I learned to live with rejections, it happens to me all the time, some of them hurt more than others. I move on and try something else.


As much as the world gives me frustration, in my art I give my characters beauty, dignity and comfort. I express strong female energy and I want my imaginary girls and women to feel proud and empowered.


Ildiko Nova



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