Accessibility links

Athena Zhe: Painting a Canvas That Lives and Breathes

Athena Zhe grew up in Ukraine wanting to paint for the rest of her life.

Her parents, however, wanted her to become a lawyer or a doctor.

When she was 14, Athena moved to the United States. Working at a health food store, Athena painted on the menu boards. A customer notice her artistic talents and asked if she would help paint faces at street fairs.

From that day on, Athena never looked back. She went from painting faces to painting human bodies.

“I love to create. I’m very visual person and I love to paint. I love to express myself in doing makeup, special effects, body paintings. I feel like I haven’t worked a day in my life.”

The world of body painting is a fine art. As we watched Athena paint, she transformed a human into a work of art. While face-painting takes about 15 to 20 minutes, body-painting can take as long as 10 hours.

So we stayed.

And we watched.

And we hope you are as mesmerized as we were.

Your opinion

Show comments

About People in America

Artists. Public servants. Immigrants. Philosophers. Innovators. One who stuttered is now a public speaker. Another paints a canvas that breathes and moves. This is the new look of "People in America" -- a VOA Learning English video series that updates our earlier historical biographies.

Our People in America (PIA) tells the stories of living Americans from all corners of the globe. They might surprise you with their thoughts and philosophies. And how they personify democracy, self-sufficiency, expression and community.

With each PIA we offer a fun way to test what you have learned. Try our multiple-choice quiz or interactive graphics. Practice to see how well you understood what you viewed. Follow along with our reading and listening material. Return to the video and watch it again.