"Our goal is to help students appreciate beauty and create art from the world that surrounds us. Together with your creativity and imagination, academic knowledge can take you on a long and fulfilling journey of personal and professional exploration." 

- Inna Polnar (Founder & Instructor)


Inna Polnar - Founder & Art Instructor

Born in the former Soviet Union, Inna graduated with a BFA from the prestigious Moscow Art University in Moscow, Russia. Studying under the renowned American colorist Ovanes Berbarian in the United States, Inna has become known for her ability to infuse still-life with emotion and movement, and her landscapes with airiness and serenity. In 2004, Inna founded Art Academia to share her passion and knowledge of art with others. Her work is on exhibit at several US galleries including Downey, New Masters, and others.


Marina Smelik - Ceramics Instructor

Marina's involvement with art started in early childhood, but among plain-air, xerography, etching, watercolor and ion, 3D art became most appealing to her. Insparation for Marina's work always comes from nature. Her handmade ceramics are mostly made and decorated using the natural colors of clay. She values clay's natural color and tries preserving it in her work us much as possible. Every piece of her work has simple organic forms combined with texture, pattern and color.


Boris Kokhno - Guest Lecturer

Boris I. Kokhno is an artist, architect, professor and PHD of art and architecture. Professor Kokhno has been teaching at the St. Petersburg Academy for more than 35 years, has participated in numerous art shows and art competitions throughout Russia and Europe, and is a well respected judge representing the St. Petersburg Art Academy. Professor Kokhno is a frequent guest lecturer at Art Academia where he shares his decades of experience with students of all ages. 

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Yury Polnar - Strategy Advisor

Yury received his MBA from the University of Southern California where he specialized in entrepreneurship and new media strategy. Having worked with such companies as YouTube, Google, and Demand Media, Yury is volunteering his time to help Art Academia develop partnerships and implement technologies to take our art school to the next level. 


Bring artists together to appreciate beauty and create art from the world that surrounds us. 


Founded in 2004, Art Academia is dedicated to providing inspiration and guidance to all of the aspiring artists in the Bay Area. Before moving into its current light drenched studio in downtown San Mateo, founder Inna Polnar studied at the Moscow University of Art in Russia, exhibited her works across Russia and the US, and taught a variety of classes throughout the Bay Area. Today, Art Academia is home to resident instructors, guest lecturers, workshop leaders, and some of the most creative students under the sun.


Art Academia prides itself with having all 5-stars on Yelp, KidfullyGoogle, & Facebook. Here are just a few words from students:

  • "I've heard so many good reviews from other moms about Art Academia that I had to try it out. I'm happy I did." Yelena G
  • "I'm so grateful to Inna! She is an incredible teacher who made a huge impact on my life and art. Thank you!" Nadine G
  • "My daughter has been going for years and always looks forward to drawing. The teachers are top notch, patient, and good at explaining concepts. She has greatly improved." Ina S
  • "Not only is there class instruction, but very good personal coaching." Audrey R
  • "I love this art school! Specially Inna is a good human and a teacher as well! Arpita D
  • "My daugher has been learning at Art Academia for 3 years and we both love Inna and her studio so much." Grace G
  • "Inna is a great teacher who is absolutely passionate about what she does. She is always positive and firm and the kids really work hard to win her praise. Kids tend to stay with Inna for a long time." Joy F
  • "Even though my 11 year old has taken art classes elsewhere, she's learned more and improved immensely in 2 weeks" Carla B


Art Academia is a European-style art school for children and adults, as well as a working studio. Influenced by the founder's curriculum in Moscow, the guiding philosophy at Art Academia is based on a classical style of instruction with emphasis on theory, observation and hands-on execution. The school's classical methods of education provide the fundamental basis for developing artistic talents and expression. By having a chance to study in a working art studio, students are able to observe the entire art-creation process from a sketch to completion, and gain inspiration from accomplished professional artists. 


Art Academia has developed an amiable reputation for providing individual attention and disciplined academic knowledge that serve as solid foundations for future careers in art, or personal self expression. Art Academia students regularly win gold, silver, and bronze awards at Bay Area art competitions. And several alumni have built impressive portfolios that have earned them admission in top art programs throughout the country. Art Academia has also won the Best Art School in San Mateo Award three consecutive years. See what our students have to say on Yelp and Facebook.  

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Please review Art Academia's student admission policy aimed at creating a conducive learning environment for everyone.