Serena Kovalosky is well-known for pushing the boundaries of traditional gourdcraft to create fine art sculptures that celebrate the organic form. She is also a curator, cultural project developer and founder of Artful Vagabond Productions whose mission is to celebrate the creativity and inspiration that artists bring to this world and to promote the arts as a viable and valuable commodity in today’s society.
Kovalosky grew up in rural Washington County, New York and developed an early appreciation for nature, spending much of her childhood exploring local woodlands. Her artistic inclinations were inspired her father, a professional photographer with whom she witnessed the film-developing process, accompanying him in the darkroom as a young child in the age before digital. She soon discovered her own natural talent for composition and form, which she later honed during her years as a sculptor.
Kovalosky was also fascinated by travel and foreign cultures and initially launched her career in the travel industry after studying languages at the State University at Potsdam, NY and spending a year in Tours, France. But she eventually traded her well-worn suitcases for an artist’s loft in Montreal, Canada and spent the next decade studying with professional artists in a variety of disciplines while researching tribal and traditional folk art.
She experimented with numerous mediums, but it was a friend’s collection of lacquered gourd art from Olina, Mexico that forever changed the focus of her work.
“Holding one of the gourds in my hands, I immediately felt a connection that traveled up my arms and exploded in my heart. I had no clue what a gourd was nor how to work with it, but I was completely and inexplicably smitten,” said the artist.
Her work took off in a bold, new direction. By working with the raw gourd as a sculptural form rather than a canvas, Kovalosky set her sights on bringing the craft to the level of fine art while mantaining the “earthiness” of the materials. She traveled to London, England to learn the art of gilding with gold, silver and copper, which would lend a certain sophistication to the finished pieces and become a hallmark of her work.
As she honed her techniques, she also met Abenaki and other Native artists who guided her in the spiritual traditions behind their creative process.
For many years, Kovalosky lived in worked in Montreal’s St. Henri district which, at the time, was a haven for artists and creatives who occupied the old factories along the canal. As with other former artist districts, developers became attracted to the area and despite organized resistance led by Kovalosky and other artists, the buildings became high-end condominiums, forcing artists to find living space and studios elsewhere.
Kovalosky returned to upstate New York to launch the creation of a new collection of artwork. “I moved back to my rural roots because I needed to re-connect with the land,” said Kovalosky. “I know how the earth smells here when it rains, I recognize the sounds the trees make in the wind. I needed to bring those emotions into my artwork.”
“My studio is filled with seeds, branches, bark, nuts and pods from my walks in the woods, but I never copy directly from nature, said the artist. “Instead, I prefer to allow the forms and textures to enter my psyche where they will naturally influence my work.”
Serena Kovalosky’s artwork is collected in homes and businesses throughout the world. Her early installations have been the highlight of Montreal’s International Festival for Humanity at McGill University and she was commissioned to create an Agriculture to Art exhibit for the New York Farm Bureau at The Egg Performing Arts Center in Albany, NY. Serena Kovalosky’s artwork and philosophy have been the subject of television documentaries on Canada’s Life Channel and Quebec’s Canal Vie, and was featured in Adirondack Life Magazine’s Collectors’ Home Edition. Her work was exhibited at the Just for Laughs Museum in Montreal and one of her large-scale gourd sculptures was selected by Charles Desmarais, Deputy Director for Art at the Brooklyn Museum in New York for the Mohawk Hudson Regional exhibition at the prestigious Hyde Collection in Glens Falls.
Kovalosky continues to exhibit regularly in museums, juried exhibitions and fine art galleries in the U.S. and Canada. The artist creates out of her studio in Washington County, New York, in the heart of a vibrant artist community.