A creative escape

Artist brings global influences and talent to Art Zone classes

by Lauren Dowdle, content director, JBMC Media
photos courtesy of Svetlana Belotserkovskaya

If art is a universal language, it’s one that Svetlana Belotserkovskaya speaks fluently.

She created Art Zone in Birmingham nearly two decades ago to offer art classes for people of all ages. That’s only fitting, considering it was classes she took that also drew her to a career and passion for art.

Svetlana Belotserkovskaya stands with students outside her studio in the Bluff Park community of Hoover.

Born in Yaroslavl, Russia, Belotserkovskaya developed a love and talent for art at an early age. “As far back as I can remember, I drew,” she says. “I was always working on art projects at school and for my home class.”

When she was nine years old, she signed up for an art class at the local art school, where the assignments were concentrated on the academic style of art and included many still-life pieces.

“We were exposed to many different art styles and techniques, which I used often in my former career as a graphic artist,” she says. “I find it interesting and challenging to work in so many different styles. So much so, I never actually landed on a specific one as my own personal style.”

She later earned her bachelor’s degree in art at a university in Russia, later earning a second degree in studio art at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Now, she’s working on her masters in art education. Though she’s always had a love for art, teaching it wasn’t in her initial plans.

Born in Russia, Belotserkovskaya combined her education in Russia and the United States to benefit countless students in the Birmingham area.

She worked as a graphic artist and freelanced her painted portraits and murals. But during an art show, customers and spectators watched as she sketched, continuously asking her if she offered art classes. Soon, she had her first student, and within a month, that turned into 40 students. And her classes have only grown from there, having taught in Birmingham for more than 18 years now.

Combining the influences of Russian and American schools of thought, Belotserkovskaya offers classes year-round that not only teach art skills, but also show students how to express their ideas through art. Her classes are open for children six years old all the way up to adults. 

Art Zone offers drawing and painting classes, with clay classes currently on hold due to COVID. Her classes have been taught in various locations across the Birmingham area, and they are currently held in Bluff Park. She also travels for art workshops and events around town.

The subject matter and inspirations vary by age group and individual student. Children learn how to draw plants, animals, people, imaginary creatures, landscapes, still lives, and cartoons. All ages can sign up for a single class or by the month.

“My students, especially teenagers and adults, come to my class with various styles and different ideas of what they want to depict,” Belotserkovskaya says. “Having the ability to draw and paint in multiple styles gives me the advantage to help individuals with diverse requests.”

No experience is needed, as she works with both beginners and more advanced students. “Some people attend my classes for years,” she says. “For children, art helps to develop motor skills, abilities to focus on a task, and to learn how to be creative and open-minded. Art is a great escape from their everyday realities and problems.”

It’s clear her classes are making an impact on the students from the countless notes and messages they have left her. One said, “Taking art classes let me learn more about the world, while also learning more about myself. I got to learn more about different styles and different mediums, while also learning how to put my own spin on things.”

Another student said, “Art was such an important influence on my younger years that I ended up majoring in art history. It’s helped me understand more about the nuances of the world.”

Though Belotserkovskaya finds herself in the role of a teacher, her passion for learning is always present.

“To further challenge myself, I like to develop and grow as an artist and take various art classes even when traveling by myself,” she says.

Art Zone is located at 736A Shades Mountain Plaza in Hoover (map). For more information or to sign up for an art class, visit her website, and follow Art Zone on Facebook.

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