Alumna Ankica Mitrovska returns to UAH for solo art exhibit

Ankica MitrovskaPortrait

Ankica Mitrovska (BA Studio Art & Art History '10)

Ankica Mitrovska (BA Studio Art & Art History '10) remembers skipping play time as a small girl in Macedonia to stay indoors and draw. The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) alumna is now enjoying success nationally in many art exhibitions including the WAH Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Limner Gallery, Hudson, N.Y.; Rochester Contemporary Art Center, Rochester, N.Y.; Ulrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Wichita, Kan.; Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntsville, Ala., and Fiber Gallery, Wichita, Kan.

Mitrovska returns to UAH next month with her new solo exhibition, "CAUTION: X.G.O.T.A.H.O.Y!" The show will run from Feb. 8-28, at the Wilson Hall Art Gallery. The UAH Department of Art, Art History and Design will hold a public reception for Mitrovska on Wednesday, Feb. 11, from 4:30 p.m., to 6:30 p.m., at the gallery.

The Mitrovska exhibit is a site-specific installation that includes a combination of charcoal drawings on paper banners, paper cutouts, and three-dimensional paper and wire pieces. "As a UAH alumna I was hoping to show my new body of work there before I return to my home country. The exhibition has involved continuous planning between myself, the members of the Art Department and the Wilson Hall Art Gallery staff."

"Ankica was a wonderful student, she understands the importance of hard work. She spent amazing amounts of time refining her craft, and exploring ideas and digging deep into her own feelings," said Kathryn Jill Johnson, associate professor of Art, Art History and Design. "Ankica's work was so good she got a full ride at her graduate program, and has already done a number of important artists residencies. Her work just keeps getting better! She is also very warm and approachable; I hope lots of students and art lovers come to her opening so they can meet her and ask about her work."

Mitrovska came to Alabama in 2006. She found the new country to be exciting. "The most challenging thing was trying to understand the southern accent of the American English language because the majority of English taught abroad is British English." A younger brother came to the states a few years before she did on a tennis scholarship to The University of Alabama at Birmingham.

While attending high school in Skopje, Macedonia (bordered by Greece), Mitrovska studied fashion merchandising. A striking young woman, well over six feet tall she "did a bit of modeling," and spent a few years after graduation working as a make-up and body painting artist. "I have always preferred the behind-the-stage atmosphere working as a make-up and body painting artist. To me, skin was a canvas of endless creative freedom," she said.

Mitrovska chose to attend UAH because of the opportunity to be close to her brother in Birmingham, and the diverse international community within the school and the city of Huntsville. "I would say I have an emotional connection to UAH because of the life long friendships I have made at the university…especially in the art department. Whenever, I visit my brother and his family in Birmingham I always stop in Huntsville for a few days and visit the art department.

"The UAH art program provided me with a good foundation and a stimulating environment that furthered my creative exploration. But no art program can fully prepare you for your entrance into the art world. It's a combination of life experience, dedication, education, hard work, and a little bit of luck," said Mitrovska.

She added, too, that the UAH art faculty were always very helpful and supportive. "I enjoyed all my classes…some included contemporary art history classes with Dr. David Stewart (associate professor), photography classes with Jose Betancourt (associate professor), and painting classes with Kathryn Jill Johnson (associate professor). I especially thank professor Johnson for her encouragement for me to pursue a master's degree in fine arts."

Despite her new-found success in the national art world, Mitrovska still considers herself an emerging artist. "I attribute my success to determination, hard work, some stubbornness and a strong passion for art, as well as support from friends and family. Initially, my parents were a bit skeptical about my choice to major in art, but once they realized the many opportunities within the field of art, they were fully supportive," she said. "They understand that I am still in the early stages of my career, and they are proud of what I have accomplished so far and are looking forward to my future success."

While Mitrovska frequently works with site-specific installations, video performance, and sculpture. Most of her art now is displayed in multi-layered charcoal drawings of androgynous, cartoon-like humanoid mutant characters. She began this concentration in graduate school at Wichita State University (WSU).

"It was a natural progression through experimentation and exploration of different mediums and applications," Mitrovska explained. "I realized that charcoal drawing and the process of adding and subtracting works best with the metaphorical nature of the mutant characters. They are intended to be a starting point in questioning the social and political structures we live in."

Her advice for students who have a passion for the Liberal Arts, but are being pressured to seek careers in STEM fields, is quite simple: "Never let the pressure of money dissuade you from pursuing the arts. If you are passionate about it, go for it!"

Mitrovska is currently an artist in residence at Outpost Artist Residency in Springfield, Mo. In March, she has another solo exhibition in Lynchburg, Va., and in June, after she moves to Macedonia, she plans to start her own live/work artist residency.

In 2014, Mitrovska received her M.F.A in painting and drawing from WSU (Wichita, Kan.).



Joyce Anderson-Maples