Nia Tavlarides Stratos didn’t develop an interest in art, she was born that way.
“I do believe you can learn and go to school and study it, but it comes from within,” she says. “I think there are two types of artists; those who like to paint and enjoy it, and another type of artist who has a desire to share it. I am definitely the latter. I am outgoing and part of who I am is what I share.”
A native Washingtonian, Stratos completed her undergraduate work at The University of Maryland and was awarded a scholarship to The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, where her work was exhibited.
“I am a contemporary artist, not modern, using movement and shape and color to express all different types of abstraction,” she says. “I use a lot of techniques when I paint, such as pointillism, which is using thousands of small dots, and use some methods where I throw the paint around on the canvas and use paint to actually draw as opposed to using a brush.”
She also has an interest in mixed-media compositions where she adheres different types of materials in and on to the canvas and paints.
“My art has evolved throughout the years. In school I studied and explored many artistic styles but I have found my true voice as an artist through the use of mixed-media,” she says. “This work incorporates a variety of materials into paintings and collages on canvas and paper that are predominantly abstract. My varied work incorporates characteristics of Color Theory, Abstract Expressionism and Abstract Impressionism. Looking back, I believe that many of the art professors I had were influenced by the artists of The Washington Color School, which is also reflected in my work.”
Spending time in her ancestral home of Greece has also given Stratos the opportunity to explore her Byzantine heritage.
“Stepping off of the boat in Hydra, Greece, I was surrounded by azure brilliance. This brief sojourn to my homeland had instantaneously reignited my inspiration to create,” she says. “Staring at the aquamarine water the cobalt and cerulean waves lapping at the shore, turquoise and azure surrounded by a labyrinth of brilliant whiteness was bather in gold from the bright sun. I was in a world of color.”
This trip inspired her in many of her paintings now on display at the Aaron Gallery in DC. Stratos also just finished an exhibition at the Women’s National Democratic Club. In 2016, she will have exhibits in the Pepco Edison Place Gallery, will have her work shown in the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and will continue to be showing at Art Wynwood in Miami. She also has an exhibit scheduled for Italy in the spring.
Working in a beautiful, bright sunroom in her home, Stratos listens to music (opera or jazz) while she works and tries to do it every day.
“I’m inspired to paint all the time. I usually have five paintings going all the time. I try to make painting a regular part of my everyday life,” she says. “I will go back and forth between one painting to the next and start new ones sometimes and continue working on the older ones.”
Stratos notes she really enjoys working on larger paintings now, and hopes to paint more painting sculptures in 2016.
“Basically, I take some book canvases and adhere them one to another and construct shapes, a little more abstract,” she says. “I’m probably going to do more pointillism paintings as well.”
In addition to her painting, Stratos also dabbled in jewelry design, creating her own specialty line called Evyenia Designs. Her collections sold to notable boutiques and department stores including Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdales. She later became a partner in a Washington based advertising agency where her work garnered both regional and national awards.
“I haven’t done jewelry for many years, as I am full force into the fine arts now,” she says. “You have to have tenacity to be an artist. I am relentless. I live and breathe art.”
Looking ahead, Stratos hopes to exhibit more internationally and plans to work with and become affiliated with more museums.
Stratos recently began working with an art advisory board called Art Impacts USA, which brings multicultural and national artists together for educational and exhibition purposes.
“I’m getting to meet all types of artists from all walks of life in the world, and we will be working together, so that’s really exciting,” she says.