You can find art all over town — not just on gallery walls. In this series, we'll be looking at some of the local artists who serve up their work in coffeehouses and other non-gallery businesses around town.
“My legal last name is Viggiani,” says the Denver-based painter and yoga instructor who goes by Una Paradox. Her art is often inspired by yoga — or maybe it’s the other way around.
Explaining her chosen moniker, Paradox says: “The human experience lends itself so perfectly to paradox, with the masculine-feminine, solar-lunar and positive-negative dualities. But I believe that there’s only one true paradox. When we can get out of our mental construct of duality, I think we can come into an experience of oneness.” And that’s exactly what una means: one.
Una Paradox’s name, then, is “a reminder not to get stuck,” she says. “It’s an entertaining way for me to remind myself about the nature of the universe.”
Paradox’s universe is one deeply grounded in yoga and art. After graduating from the University of Colorado in Boulder with a BFA in fine art, Paradox – a Colorado native raised in upstate New York – found herself teaching the subject at a local elementary school.
“That’s how I found yoga,” she says, “as a way to de-stress from the demands of my job!” In 2009, Paradox was ready for a big change; she completed her yoga certification and began teaching adults the art of mindfulness and flow at Karma Yoga Center, where a few of her acrylics are on display in the lobby through March.
Paradox has also exhibited her work at Kindness Yoga, Meta Yoga Studios and Actasana — fitting venues, because “my understanding of yoga has definitely informed my art,” she says.
“I tend to paint these energetic things, where I combine realistic and energetic energies,” continues Paradox. Her work is striking, with sweeping brush strokes, clean lines and intense colors.
“I love using bright, rainbow colors, and really allowing color to be one of the main feelings you get from a painting,” Paradox explains. “Color creates such a beautiful feeling in your being. When you see brightness, you feel bright.” Paradox hopes the vibrancy on her canvases will translate into how viewers interpret her ideas.
Those ideas, by the way, just sort of materialize. “I don’t usually start out with an idea of what it is I’m going to paint,” Paradox admits. “I try to lay down a variety of colors and layers and textures. Once they’re grounded, I start to decipher what I think wants to come through in the painting.” She calls the process one of self-discovery.
Paradox might not be teaching children anymore, but her art still moves them. “A lot of people like my art for kid's rooms,” she says, attributing that to the whimsy of her animals, in particular. “They’re fun and silly,” she explains. “The other paintings translate well for yoga studios because they have ohm symbols and people meditating.” The latter often showcase various mudras, too, and sometimes include Sanskrit writing.
Paradox paints whenever she can, but her main shtick is yoga — teaching, and also organizing retreats. At her upcoming, nine-day Bali retreat – set for March 14 through March 23 – yoga and art will collide, as Paradox’s students participate in daily yoga practice as well as an art project.
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When Paradox teaches art to adults, she usually tries to incorporate kindergarten techniques: cutting, gluing, finger painting. “That’s more accessible to everyone,” she says.
The project on the Bali trip will be a little different, though. “We’re going to do what I call a soul portrait,” says Paradox. “It’s working with the energies of portraiture – how to do an accurate one – and adding in elements that express the inner-self: the soul.” Interested in learning more? There are still a few spots left on this retreat, and more information is available on Paradox’s Bella Retreats website.
“I think every painting is really a soul portrait, to be honest,” Paradox continues. “I love what I do, and think it’s important to try to live an extraordinary life. That often means doing things very different than what society or teachers or your parents think you should do. But I think it’s crucial we find an authentic expression of how we want to live ours lives.”