Evgenia Gennadia-Willis’ soft pastel portrait on plexiglass entitled “Anna” is on display on the third floor of the Saddleback College library. (Josh Zent/Lariat)
Exactly who is Evgenia Gennadia-Willis? With an education in architecture, graphic design and art, the Russian born Willis has several talents. To further her education beyond Russia, Gennadia-Willis moved to Warsaw, Poland to pursue a higher education. Later, she returned to Russia to obtain a degree in architecture, then began a career as a government projects supervisor in Russia. Although educated and successful, she had yet to pursue her passion for art.
She moved to the United States in 1992 where she received both a bachelors and masters degree in fine arts from the Laguna College of Art and Design. Over the past decade Gennadia-Willis has gained academic training and experience from well-established art instructors at the Laguna College of Art and Design.
Willis is a faculty member for the Saddleback College Emeritus institute, Laguna Plein Air Painters Association, Oil Painters of America, American Impressionist Society, Russian-American Art Foundation and Pastel Society of the West Coast. She is also the co-founder of the United Society of Pastel Arts.
Some of her skills include art education, art therapy, art history, contemporary art techniques and oil painting, to name a few. She has instructed art classes at the Art Association of Laguna Woods, and the University of California Irvine-Russian kids studio. Her instructor experience has helped set forth new goals for her career, which aim towards increasing student motivation, awareness and understanding of the arts, with emphasis on interdisciplinary teachings.
Throughout the week, Gennadia-Willis has a pop-up art gallery on the third floor of the library. Her work includes soft pastel on various surfaces titled “Anna,” “Anna Dreaming” and “Elisabeth’s Grandchild.” There are 8 pieces or her art on display in total.
Her art seems to display a very real element while also incorporating her life experiences. Her extensive knowledge and passion for art is clearly visible, as if you almost understand the mood she was in when she created these fine works of art.