Natascha is Austrian-Congolese. She is currently studying economics in Vienna. But, she does not see herself working in this field in the future. Her choice of subject was more to please her parents. Indeed, for her parents and many other African parents, there are three paths to have success in life: law, medicine, or economics. She started with law, then tried medicine, and finally ended up with economics. Tascha is first and foremost a born artist–she is truly passionate about art. It took her a long time to profess her passion to her parents. She would like to focus on her career as an artist after she finishes her studies. Let’s take a closer look at her sources of inspiration and her art. Then, she will tell more about her experience regarding racial bullying.
Natascha’s artistic sources of inspiration
Her primary source of inspiration is spirituality. Her spirituality is composed of metaphysics, universal laws, dream interpretation, and meditation. All these factors help her to stimulate her creativity and visualize each piece of artwork.
There are some female artists of color whom she admires, such as the painter and illustrator Happy. D Artist. Her paintings of female characters, steeped in a magical and fantastic universe, are fascinating to Tascha. Also, as an Asian artist, Happy.D Artist does not hesitate to paint Asian characters. Seeing this, Tascha thought she should paint more black characters in the future. Some artists may be reluctant to paint characters of color because they could reach a smaller audience. Spirituality is the main source of inspiration for her artwork. What is Tascha’s definition of spirituality?
Spirituality according to Tascha
“Religion and spirituality are two different things, but people often confuse them.” This quote from Mohamed Ali is, in my opinion, what we need to understand about spirituality. However, there is not a single definition of spirituality. “Spirituality is, in my opinion, an introspection to oneself that allows one to seek meaning in life and live in peace with oneself,” says Tascha. To be spiritual means to be aware of who she really is.
Introspection was necessary for her to overcome her depression and anxiety. How? By listening to her emotions, her thoughts, and everything that is part of her inner world to make her better in the outer world. Love and self-acceptance are the tools to help develop spirituality, protecting it from fear and stress. These negative emotions are necessary but we cannot let them overwhelm us. Natascha was a believer for years but stopped believing in God. She explains to us why she decided to give up religion.
From religious to spiritual
What can spirituality bring that religion can’t? For Natascha, religion is another prison with its rules, its dogmas, and its traditions. With spirituality, there is no such thing. “Rules inspire fear in religion; if you don’t follow this rule, if you take that risk, you’re not a good person, you risk to not going to heaven. The beliefs are based on fear. Nonetheless, there is good and bad in all of us, it’s part of life,” she says. She has her own definition of hell: “The one we create with all these negative energies that we internalize due to our bad experiences.”, she says. With religion, Tascha felt that she had to be perfect. Moving away from religion to spirituality took away some pressure and anxiety. It also helped her learn to cope with her depression and anxiety.
Art is a way for Natascha to express herself but also a form of therapy. Creation allows her to regain energy, to leave negative energies behind, and to help her heal from her emotional wounds. For a few years, she suffered from depression and anxiety, but art helped her to overcome them. She wants to spread positivity through her art by being inspired by spirituality. Creation and spirituality helped her to overcome the depression and anxiety she suffered from for a few years. The reason behind is racial bullying.
Depression due to racial bullying
Depression and anxiety have long been a part of Natascha’s life. Austria is not exempt from one of the most common mental illnesses: depression. According to the Spectra Research Institute, one in four people suffers from depression. There are many reasons why people can suffer from depression and/or anxiety. For Tascha, it was due to the harassment and racism she experienced on a daily basis. Racial bullying is, according to Childline, “a type of racism where someone’s bullying focuses on your race, ethnicity or culture.”
At high school, she was harassed daily by her classmates who constantly tried to provoke her. For what reason? Because of her skin color. The use of the n-word was a daily occurrence. One day, her class watched the film “American History X,” which talks about the Neo-Nazi movement in America. When the film was over, some people imitated the Neonazi characters of the film by repeating “Fuck these niggers.” Another time, during the computer class, the teacher used the word nigger to refer to a black priest (the teacher later apologized, as her intention was apparently not to offend Natascha).
No help, no support
Natascha was constantly subjected to harassment and racism and had no support. None. Furthermore, she could not rely on her teachers, as they also made stereotypical, racist judgments towards black people. In a biology course, one of her classmates asked if black people had really big penises. Natascha’s teacher affirmed it and outlined it as abnormal and dangerous since black people could have a lot of sexual diseases, the teacher claimed. This hostile and toxic environment has deeply affected Natascha’s morale and self-esteem. It’s not easy to get support as a black woman. It is a challenge for many people of color to find the right psychologist who will understand them. It could be difficult for POC to look after their mental health.
She became more and more withdrawn and her social life suffered as a result. Today she is much better. She does breathing exercises, meditation, speaks to herself in a positive way, whether she succeeds in something or not. And she is pursuing her dream through art.