Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Thrifters Around the World: Hunting and Making in Timisoara, Romania with Art Teacher, Anca

Long-time reader Anca recently reached out to share her story after my World Thrifters re-cap, and I'd be remiss not to share the story of a art educator and thrifter from Romania! Oh, and she's in a feminist vocal arts group? How awesome is that? With descriptions of ample relaxing parks of cafes, Romania's a new place on my dream-visit list!

Please tell us about yourself, Anca!

I’m Anca and I am from Timisoara, a city in Romania. I live with my two best friends and our two rescue dogs. I work as an art teacher and artist.

You told me you're an art educator, which is something I consider going to school for every few minutes, haha. Please tell us about your art education/background.

I studied painting at the Art University in my city, it was my teenage dream to be able to study there. My generation was the last to study exclusively for free, but the admission exam was difficult. I was very disappointed though after the first months of studying there, in the very macho and competition oriented atmosphere. But that was where I’ve met my friends with whom I work now, so studying there wasn’t for nothing.

I've had multiple friends tell me they suffered through the same environment. "I took a year break to recover from art school," is a joke I often hear. What's your favorite thing to create?

I work together with my friends in a feminist visual art group and working with them is my main interest and passion. Besides that, I have many creative hobbies like film photography, embroidery and drawing.

What's your favorite thing to collect?
I like to collect things that can be used creatively, like old photo cameras or crafting supplies. But also, I am searching for things that tell a story about their era or their former owners like antique and vintage photos, old costume jewelry and toys and school supplies from my childhood.

How does hunting inspire you creatively?
I love being surrounded by objects that have a history. Trying to unravel their story is very intriguing to me, and that includes the knowledge that part of their story will always stay a mystery.

Tell us about where you live.
It’s one of the big cities in Romania, but it doesn’t really feel like a big city, besides the fact that there are too many cars. It's a pleasant place to live in most of the time, with many parks and relaxed cafes.

Is there a big art/diy/craft culture in Romania?

I wouldn't say there is a big scene, especially concerning the kinds of art, crafts and design that I 'm interested in (that have a clear ecologist and anti- consumerist stance). But, I don' t feel isolated either, there are people around me to be inspired by, to discuss and work with.

Is there a big thrifting culture?

I couldn’t say that thrifting is something “mainstream”, but it’s something important for people who are creative and want to step out (at least partially) from the consumer culture. But also, I know stories of people who are ashamed to run into acquaintances at the flea market.

What are thrift stores like where you live?

I find most of the things I collect at the flea market, thrift stores here sell mostly clothes, some of them having very small knick-knacks sections. But I don’t complain, I have found many great pieces of clothing in thrift stores; actually I can’t even remember when I last bought a clothing item new (besides underwear and socks).

What are vintage shops like where you live?

There are not many curated vintage shops, actually now I can think of only one that is doing well. I think that people who are interested in vintage items prefer to search for them in flea markets.

What drives you to hunt and collect?
I think it' s important to buy as little as possible new mass-produced items, things whose production is most often based on the exploitation of humans, animals and nature.  So, searching for useful pre-owned items is really important to me.  Also adding to my collections is something that relaxes and inspires me.

What's your biggest creative muse?
Everyday life!  The streets I walk by, the things that happen to me and my friends, our dogs, our reactions to how things are reflected in mainstream media, etc. And the flea markets, of course!

Any creative plans for the future?

Among other things, I plan to continue an embroidered diary and also draw (at least) 100 things from nature, to have as examples for my students in the next school year, but also because it is so nice to look closely at flowers and leaves and acorns.

Favorite thrifted find?

It’s hard to narrow it down to one favorite, but I was very glad when I have found a sterling guilloche enameled pendant shaped as an acorn (it opens like a box) from the 1910s- 1920s. Also, finding a Chinese pencil case from the eighties that it’s the exact same one that I used to have as a kid was something that made me very happy.

Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Anca! Anca blogs at Stories of Objects.

/Comments Off I'm finally out of town at the Hostel in the Forest for a couple of days! I'm keeping the comments off for the next couple of posts so I can leave electronics behind and just explore nature. :D I'll post updates on Instagram.
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