One should either be a work of art or wear a work of art.
— Oscar F. Wilde

Illustration by NellyAba

Natasha Nyanin was born in London, whisked around Europe to be presented to family members scattered like seeds across the continent, and then rooted and raised in Accra, Ghana. At five, flew as an unaccompanied minor from Accra’s Kotoka International Airport to Manila, Philippines where she would spend months at a time with her diplomat father and family. Harare, Zimbabwe and Lusaka, Zambia also held, at different periods, the joyous distinction of home away from Accra for her. Now, she lives in New York, after having spent several years in Atlanta, still very much a nomad who feels, like Gertrude Stein, that Paris is her hometown. Exploring and expanding her universe is, to her, an art, and art her raison d’être.

Natasha’s need to chase sunsets in far away lands is but a microcosm of her larger drive to excavate the very essence of beauty. A pragmatist by necessity and artist by design, she has straddled the (not mutually exclusive) realms of arts and science her entire life. As a student at Ghana International School she excelled in biology, but was enthralled by literature from the very moment in the fourth grade when her mother thrust a yellowing copy of Dickens’s David Copperfield into her hands to quell the complaints of “I am bored, Mummy!” While majoring in Neuroscience at Emory University, she spent more hours traversing the black marley floor of the dance studio than peering into the microscope, majoring also in the Dance and Movement studies.  Shaken in the unique test tube of her college experience, she took a position as a Health Scientist in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Division of Global HIV/ AIDS where she worked for seven years, an endeavour that subsidized her appetites not only for fashion and travel, but also also for gastronomic self-education. In fact, Natasha believes deeply in the beauty of culinary art and is a committed dilettante of kitchen play, hosting frequent dinner-salons in her home which give her the occasion to craft meals inspired by her travels, events that culture and incubate conversations about our residence here on earth.

Conversations with her indeed do vary just as much as her interests do: from the fascinating nature of idioms to the notion of tennis as the ultimate idiom of the solo battle of life (as a devotee of The sport and also a fanatical follower of Ghana’s national football team, the Black Stars, Natasha has lost sleep and gone hoarse shouting over bad calls, lost causes and against-all-odds victories); from the simple ecstasy of Mozart to the sheer operatic brilliance and wit of drag culture (her devotion to opera, ballet and theatre is so complete that she will cross oceans and time zones for the privilege of weeping in gratitude over any of the above as long as they are not in competition with her viewing of the latest episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race); from the graceful power of Helmut Newton's photograph of Yves Saint-Laurent's Le Smoking to the idea that Tilda Swinton is the living quintessence of the aforementioned photograph. Such passions the feed the fire of her writing and creative consulting.

Natasha tempers the conflagration of these and other passions as a sadhaka of Iyengar Yoga, “searching for equanimity and walking the balance between passion and dispassion,” which aptly characterizes her relationship to poetry, for poetry, like yoga, is, in her mind, a manifestation of the collective consciousness that binds the universe. And it is through poetry she found her life's mantra in the words penned by Rainer Maria Rilke: "This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,  by constantly greater beings."

Multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-sensory, Natasha is perhaps best summed up as an alchemist who sees gold in every base metal and whose meditations on truth and beauty and life lived artfully can be found on her blog, The Ecstatic Flash. She may wear many hats, but they are all woven from the same strand of straw: creativity. 

 

Personal biography written in collaboration with Gail O'Neill

 

 

Beauty shall save the world
— Fyodor Dostoyesky