Alina, how did you get into plants?
I think I got love for plants from my mom and grandma — we always had many plants in our apartment, where I grew up. I remember that I loved reading plant care books (and looking at pictures, of course) when I was a child. When I grew up I started buying my own plants. I’ve had plants in my apartments for as long as I can remember, but I had to leave all my plants back in Moscow when I moved to NYC in 2017. I couldn’t imagine my home without plants, it would feel empty and lifeless. Especially when you live in a big busy city like New York, you constantly crave that tropical greenery. Needless to say I couldn’t wait to “jungle-fy” my new home.
Even though I started my current collection back in 2017, I think it really went out of hand only several months ago when I moved from Manhattan to a new apartment in Brooklyn — it’s an open plan loft space filled with light coming from large south-west facing windows. Plants absolutely loved it here, I got encouraged to grow my collection, became slightly obsessed and right now my apartment is filled with 80+ plants. (And the collection is still growing...)
My apartment doubles as a studio where I work, plants are an integral part of my art practice. Although I feel inspired the most when I travel to remote places and reconnect with nature, the sources and inspirations are also observations made of organic forms found in my indoor jungle — intricate leaf patterns, unusual textures, afternoon plant shadows. In reference to these observations I begin pulling shapes and colors together that form a mood and vibration.
Aside from being a source of inspiration for my work, caring for plants is also a great form of mindfulness meditation. Over the years it became a daily practice for me, I try to dedicate at least an hour every day to spend with my plants. Some time spent with plants in the morning helps to concentrate, while in the evening, after hours of painting, plants give my eyes rest.
Tell us more about Alina:
I was born and raised in Moscow, Russia. Two years ago I moved to NYC with my husband Artem and our cat Usha. A year ago we adopted our second cat Sofie. Four of us now live in Brooklyn in a converted factory building that was built in 1915. Huge loft windows together with an open plan space provide plenty of natural light for me to work on my paintings and for plants to thrive. I run my own website (alinafassakhova.com) where art collectors can buy my works. I create abstract paintings inspired by the nature and my travels to remote places.
Do you have a secret skill?
I’m a passionate underwater photographer, I specialize in super macro photography. There is an entire realm of tiny, exquisite life even scuba divers rarely see. This is the world of underwater macro photography: the world of tiny colorful creatures a fraction of an inch in size. At this level, macro underwater photography becomes more art than science. I draw a lot of inspiration from there for my work.
Do you have a ‘green thumb‘?
Indeed I spend a lot of time caring for my plants, I’m successful with most of them, but I never stop learning. Every new plant is a challenge, as I try to find a perfect spot for it, figure out its light and watering needs in my apartment. This always will be a way of trial and error, but the more challenging the process is, the sweeter the reward of seeing a finicky plant thrive.
Any plant care tips you can share?
I like to read about a plant on the internet before getting one. I personally pay attention to a plant’s natural habitat (what country a plant is native to, on what elevation it grows in the wild, UV index, humidity etc.). Based on that information I try to recreate the best conditions for a plant to grow in my apartment. Another important recommendation is to spend time with your plants — to be observant, notice small changes. This helps to slowly figure out what a plant needs and likes. Moreover plant care is extremely therapeutic.
P.S. Follow Alina's plant parenthood journey, and check out her incredible artwork, on her Instagram.
Words By The Sill
Empowering all people to be plant people — a collection of articles from The Sill’s team of Plant Experts across a variety of plant care topics to inspire confidence in the next generation of plant parents. Welcome to Plant Parenthood™.