We first came across an image Ksenia made by tying wild flowers to a used plastic bottle. It was striking, simultaneously highbrow and lowbrow. Inspired by her work, we asked her to participate in this series. Here’s what she had to say:

Can you describe your creative practice?

I’m a photo editor, set designer, and artist.

Ksenia Mikhailova

Photograph by Julia Tatarchenko

Ksenia Mikhailova

Photograph by Ksenia Mikhailova

What does feminism mean to you?

Feminism to me means fighting for womxn’s rights, in all spheres of society. On a more personal level, it’s about struggling with the patriarchal mindset that I’ve dealt with from an early age—I was born and raised in a very patriarchal culture. It also means being able to connect and share with other womxn.

Can you share any stories from your creative career when being a womxn was a focus, for better or worse?

I’ve been very lucky to work as a creative. I feel like my coworkers and employers have always treated me professionally. The creative field in Russia is a slightly privileged environment for womxn; you may not be struck with obvious sexism like sexual harassment, underpayment, limitations in the range of your professional work, or questions about your reproductive life plans. But sexism still exists in milder forms. I’m still met with paternalistic and condescending attitudes at times, and there is lookism in the workplace.

How have communities like Ladies Who Create impacted you?

Ladies Who Create selected one of my images for one of their events, and it was a big boost to my confidence as an artist. It is very important to highlight womxn’s work and cooperate together.

Ksenia Mikhailova

Photograph by Ksenia Mikhailova

Are there any artists or photographers who inspire you?

Lina Scheynius, Laura Letinsky, Tania Leshkina (Hart Leshkina duo), Lauren Coleman, Olya Ivanova. It’s a long list!

Is there a cause or political platform that you’re fired up about?

Domestic violence and prostitution in Russia.

How do you train your creative muscle?

It’s a combination of seeing a lot of other people’s work, shooting more or less consistently, and letting yourself have rest.

How do you navigate anxiety about work?

I’ve been in therapy a few years, yet still anxiety about work is a tough thing. Impostor syndrome is real. Comparing my work to the work of others is very painful. I try to be nice to myself and accept support from my friends.

How do you overcome a creative rut?

The most effective thing (sadly, unavailable now) is to go on a trip and see new stuff.

Ksenia Mikhailova

Photograph by Ksenia Mikhailova

What do you want to be doing in five years?

Same thing, but deeper and better.

What’s the best career advice you’ve received?

If something seems too hard to do, write a plan.

What is one way that we can make work human?

Respect boundaries of ourselves and others.

What message do you have for womxn in the creative community?

You’re so cool :)

If you enjoyed Ksenia's story, check out the Ladies Who Create column and request a free copy of Feminist Propaganda, our new magazine that explores identity, feminism, and work.

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