Art professors paint a love story

Mijatovic and Kovacevic discuss their marriage, being in a working relationship

For Natalija Mijatovic, associate professor and art department chair, and Blazo Kovacevic, assistant professor of art, their relationship has been a work of art.

Natalija Mijatovic, associate professor and art department chair, and Blazo Kovacevic, associate professor of art, met at the Academy of Fine Arts in Montenegro. After the couple graduated from the University of Fine Arts in 1997 with concentrations in painting, the couple moved to Philadelphia to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

“Our relationship is a form of artistic collaboration,” Kovacevic said. “The most important thing we learned from the art school is to articulate well both the things we have in common and our differences. Art is to be grateful for former, and cherish the latter.”

The couple met during the preliminary exam at the Academy of Fine Arts in Montenegro, and according to Kovacevic, it was love at first sight.

“I spotted her in the crowd, curly-haired girl in polka-dot tights and told my friends I will marry her one day,” Kovacevic said. “It took me a while, but I married her twice! First in a shabby office in Philadelphia, and again in a medieval monastery, on an island in the middle of Skadar Lake, in Montenegro.”

After the couple graduated from the University of Montenegro’s Academy of Fine Arts in 1997 with concentrations in painting, the couple moved to Philadelphia to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. It was there, during their Masters of Fine Arts studies, that they got married in 2000. They then held an official church wedding in the monastery in 2003.

The couple moved to Binghamton last fall. Mijatovic became chair of the art department and painting teacher and Kovacevic a design and drawing professor.

“Working together is intense. We studied together, and we’re each other’s toughest critics,” Mijatovic said. “We are both perfectionists, and have divergent methods for achieving the same goal.”

Kovacevic said it can be difficult for his wife to be his boss.

“Well, she was the boss in the house, and now at work, too,” Kovacevic said. “I remember the words of our professor from the Academy of Art in Montenegro, Nikola Gvozdenovic: ‘When you found this girl, the trouble found you.’ He also added, ‘It takes a real man to love a strong woman.’”

Mijatovic sees it differently.

“It takes a strong woman to love an artist, I’d say,” Mijatovic said.

Despite their similarities, the couple varies with their reaching methods.

“We are both very demanding, but we have different approach to nurturing an artist in every student,” Kovacevic said.

Working together has its benefits. Discussing work with your partner is one of them.

“Our jobs are creative, challenges are often overwhelming, but I guess we like it that way. It’s much like making art, starting every day from the scratch,” Kovacevic said.