Who’s Who: Arta Skuja

Who’s Who: Arta Skuja
Mike Butler

When in Wolfville, either as a resident or a visitor, it doesn’t take long to see and feel the involvement of the L’Arche community. It’s a beautiful and constant piece of our surroundings and I have been so fortunate to meet and work with many of the great souls who’ve worked (and still work) within that L’Arche community. Arta Skuja is one such great soul.

Arta Skuja is from Latvia, a small, peaceful and green country by the Baltic sea, with just a little over two million inhabitants. Latvia is still her home base, and when she’s not trotting the globe, that’s where she is living a simple life in the country: “I work from home and enjoy the luxury of hearing the gentle sounds of nature,” she says, “and the beauty of observing closely the turn of the seasons.”

Arta is a professional artist, mainly working with textiles, printmaking, painting, illustrations, and Orthodox iconography. She came to Wolfville in 2010 to be part of the L’Arche community and stayed here for three years. Like so many before her, she has made several return visits, the last one being this past winter (2019) as the artist in residence with the L’Arche community.

“I’ve known I wanted to be an artist since I can remember,” she says, “and with the encouragement and support of my family, I started studying early and have never stopped. If there’s anything unique about it then perhaps it’s the fact that the calling in my life came so early and so clear, at the age of five. It continues to be an amazing journey in learning and practicing this ‘language.’”

“I was honoured and very happy to have had the opportunity to be the artist in residence with the L’Arche community this past winter,” Arta continues. “It has been so joyful and full of good surprises to collaborate on pieces with many of my L’Arche friends.”

Besides L’Arche, Arta has been involved in some other special art projects, including an international textile project called United Threads, which was a collaborative art and social justice project between textile artists and women from Afghanistan. The artists purchased and incorporated small embroidered squares from the Afghani women into their compositions, with the idea to raise awareness of the low social status these women have in society, and to promote their crafts.

Arta loves to spend her free time in fresh air, in remote undisturbed places in nature, hiking, cycling, swimming, and foraging in forests. When she travels she takes the time to really embrace her surroundings. “I love backpacking and travelling on foot, because that way you really connect with the landscape and people around you,” she says. “I love good, meaningful conversations; hearing people’s stories is like being gifted a precious stone.”

The future looks bright and colourful for this special artist. Arta says that the big goals are to grow in compassion and love towards all, to remain truthful to one’s journey, and to recognize the divine reality in the physical world. One of the guiding principles for her life, she says, quoting Saint Benedict, is to “listen carefully and incline the ear of your heart.”

Arta’s commitment to bringing art to our community is invaluable and very much appreciated. A huge thank you for painting our town with your talent, compassion, and heart.

You can find some of Arta’s amazing works on the following outlets: facebook.com/art.artaskuja/ and Instagram as @skujart. You will not be disappointed!