Photographer Keitaro Cloward in conversation with rhythmic gymnastics and model Nastasya Generalova.
Keitaro : Hi!
Nastasya Generalova : Hi! My name is Nastasya Generalova, I’m 21 years old and I’m from Los Angeles, CA. I’m black-indigenous and Russian and half of my life I grew up in Los Angeles and Moscow where my mother is from.
Keitaro: How was the first year officially living bi-coastal (LA & NYC)?
Nastasya Generalova: I feel very blessed that I get a taste of both the East Coast and the West Coast. I feel that it is a great way to learn about all the different types of people that there are and the different lifestyles everybody has. It’s so interesting to see how different the West Coast is from the East Coast, how people carry themselves, how people talk how people move, it’s just very eye-opening. I definitely feel that the opportunity to live in the East Coast has helped me develop my character a bit more. I will say however nothing beats the weather on the West Coast in California.
Keitaro: Most memorable moments from this last year?
Nastasya Generalova: I’ve truly had a lot of memorable moments this year. I’ve met some amazing people in different aspects of my life. I feel like I’ve broadened my connections this year and I’m really appreciative of that. Each person who has entered my life this year has taught me a lesson and I appreciate them for that whether good or bad it’s all a lesson at the end of the day. Materialistically I think the coolest thing that happened to me was having a gigantic billboard in the center of LA modeling being the face of Good American . That was truly a huge moment for me and that proved to myself that all my hard work and the years in modeling is starting to pay off doing what I love truly.
Keitaro: Wow! Congrats that must have felt amazing to see for the first time! Speaking on lessons and growth, as humans we naturally are in a constant state of change and evolving, yet, at the same time in a society that needs you to be a box to place an identity on you, how do you feel the art forms you are involved in help you communicate growth in your life?
Nastasya Generalova: I definitely do feel like society kind of traps you in this box in order to have this repeated cycle of everyday life. My mind doesn’t work like that. I often tend to wander off in my mind and I try to show people a little piece of what goes through my mind through my art in my photos, drawing, and my words of course. I love the feeling of being free and creating any world in which you feel safe and comfortable to be your own TRUE self. When I mean true self it can truly be anything. It can be a made-up character, I can have super powers, it could be an entirely different planet or universe. This is what I tried to show through the worlds that I develop in my art. And I love how I can incorporate other peoples minds as well who I work with and what their vision of these worlds are. Every time when I go to a shoot for instance I always make sure to ask the people who I’m working with what world we are trying to create in order to make this experience a collaborative and unison work of art. I love it.
Keitaro: I love that outlook! Tell us more about your philosophy when it comes to changes life presents?
Nastasya Generalova: I tell every person I meet this all the time but I believe that everything happens for a reason. Whether it is good or bad, it’s to teach you a lesson. That’s my philosophy regarding life. Life is about experience. Ultimately, you are life and life is you. The same as you are the universe and the universe is you. You are so special that the universe created you in order to experience itself.
“Life is about experience. Ultimately, you are life and life is you. The same as you are the universe and the universe is you.”
Keitaro: As an artist, if you were to choose, would you want people to see your work as more aesthetic or philosophical pieces?
Nastasya Generalova: I will definitely say my work over time has become more of a philosophy rather than just an aesthetic. I make arts to what my mind is thinking of in that specific moment. Or a specific time. Immediately, when I have an idea of a really unique world I have to share it with others in order for them to have a small taste of what their mind is capable of doing as well. I feel like art is philosophy isn’t it after all?
Keitaro: Couldn’t agree more! Doing things remotely, diving into virtual worlds and spaces seems to be where the flow of things are going, making worlds accessible to those who wouldn’t otherwise have access, but if there was one “real life” moment that you were born into a post metaverse world, purely hypothetical, the you would want to experience in the “real world” what would a few of those moments be?
Nastasya Generalova: I think with the entire world now shifting to the metaverse world, we have all collectively kind of forgot to appreciate the simple things in life such as real human interaction with one another and especially with nature. We tend to be so immersed into the technological world that we don’t stay present in the real world and that’s most likely where we are headed. So that’s what I would want to experience in the real world if I was born post metaverse world. In this new age and new era that we live in, people are very obsessed with the image of perfection. If I was born post metaverse world I want to experience in the real world the feeling of connecting with people in real life and not only through technology. Being more present in the moment, so we aren’t locked in the technology world. Additionally call mom with terrible climate change that’s been happening and will continue to evolve, I really would have love to just go to a beautiful view where you can see the stars crystal clear at night. I feel like that’s something everybody deserves to see.
Keitaro: As a earth sign (Zodiac), your connection to the physical is an integral and grounding element. What would you say the difference, to even a photoshoot, that happens all in studio when all the traveling happens in your mind and in your emotions. Opposed to traveling to a location for a shoot and being surrounded by the environment itself?
Nastasya Generalova: Yes definitely as an earth sign, earth signs are known to be very grounded people in one way or another. I of course love when I shoot outside and in the environment of earth itself. However in the industry many shoots are in the studio where in my mind in particular I force myself to kind of create a whole new world even though I’m in the studio. I have a very imaginative brain so I can transform a studio in my mind to a specific world that I’m thinking of while playing with shapes with my body in order to be more creative and have another source to art. When you’re in the studio, you’re forced to work a lot with your body and your facial expressions, so I tend to talk a lot with my eyes in order the commence a feeling. However when I am in nature or outside, I move with the frequency of nature. I can feel how the wind is moving or how certain tree shaped for instance and I try to match that energy of the outside world.
“We have all collectively kind of forgot to appreciate the simple things in life such as real human interaction with one another and especially with nature.”
Keitaro: Any memories in particular, on that?
Nastasya Generalova: I’ve had a lot of very dope outside and inside shoots. The cool thing about inside shoots is you can create worlds inside and I’d say one of my favorite was when I pretended I was on a different planet in the form of this moon alien planet. It was a very amazing shoot because I got to incorporate so many peoples visions into one set and it was truly a very memorable shoot. My favorite outside shoot was when I traveled with my favorite photographer in the middle of the desert next to Death Valley and we kind of had this idea of this desert girl who is super free and living amongst the real world of earth, almost like a desert mermaid. I remember on that shoot that was my first time meeting my favorite photographer Keitaro and I trusted him to drive us about four hours away into the desert and ever since, then we’ve become amazing friends and I always create with him as our minds sync.
Keitaro: My favorite as well! If 2021 was person and life and events that you experienced were your two’s conversation what would be some of the things that you loved or learned from the stories and words that passed between you two?
Nastasya Generalova: I would say thank you. Thank you for all the times where you made me smile, laugh, and experience new things. Thank you for all the times you made me cry and angry and frustrated in my own head and thoughts in the betrayals. Thank you for bringing me hope. The most important, thank you for the experience and for allowing me to learn from both the good and the bad. Because life is like Yin and yang you need the bad and you need the good for balance. Thank you for allowing me to grow and teaching me to grow from my mistakes as well as others and to learn from all the experiences that shaped up the year. I’ve learned a lot. I know what I want to work on personally in 2022 thanks from my experiences in 2021.
Keitaro: What new spaces would you like to explore, things you’d like to be involved in, etc in 2022?
Nastasya Generalova: I want to explore more into these new worlds that I started to create and develop in 2021. I realize that this is really my thing and this is one of the things that I love doing not only for myself but for others as well as it’s very Eye-opening and I like how if I can impact one person, I’ve already done my job, but it’s clear I’m impacting much more. I’m also hoping to dive more into the world of acting. For me photography and modeling is like acting in still motion. The energy you bring behind the lens is portrayed through the photos. I really feel since I’ve learned to give emotion not only from my shoots and different worlds I create, but from being on the USA national team in rhythmic gymnastics where artistry is crucial in order to engage with the audience/judges, acting is something I’m very much interested in and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2022. Aside of that I’m excited to give my love to people, because that’s the only way I’ll be moving in 2022 and onwards. Peace and love to all.