Serena Love

Grande Prairie Artist Jim Stokes considers the work of emerging artist Serena Love

Written by Jim Stokes | Artwork by Serena Love

Wretched Raven - by Serena Love

Wretched Raven – by Serena Love

Through social media, I have had the occasion to see the work of Grande Prairie artist Serena Love (posted by Love Original). Amidst the videos of cats and other wacky things in my news feed, Love’s posts portray a warm, human presence.

From a very young age, Serena has had the creative bug and the need to express herself through drawing and painting. Art was always percolating on the back burner but in the last couple years it has come to the forefront. She can’t see “living without creativity,” and states, “I’m humbled and honoured people are responding to the work.” Serena speaks of pursuing her creative path as a battle between “inhibition and confidence.” I believe many artists would agree with this state of creating.

I first became aware of Serena’s art a few years ago; she had a number of her large raven paintings layered onto humble burlap. It struck me as a fine mix of materials and subject. The layering of burlap gives a strange organic quality to the surface and her treatment of the black paint makes it diffused and softened. These works can be seen as symbolic and celebratory yet an element of melancholy and mystery permeates them. Serena speaks of the works being flexible in meaning, depending on what was happening while she worked on them. She states, “Art, ignites my passion to breathe life and colour into the ordinary.”

Nigel -by Serena Love

Nigel -by Serena Love

Animals are a subject of interest for Serena. Nigel, an acrylic on burlap painting of a thoughtful silverback gorilla, was enhanced with dashes of Matrix green and hung in a grand elaborate frame.

Speaking with Serena in her studio, she describes how the works in the burlap series are both fun and challenging to do; challenging as it’s a one shot process with no chance of correction afterwards—she just has to jump in.

In the last year, many new works on canvas have emerged from Serena’s studio. Each painting is bold, with a high intensity, candy coloured palette, and a hint of expressionism. One of my favourites is the brooding large painting titled Warhorse. It is possible to read this painting, formed through palette knife smackings and scrapings, as an echo of the dystopian visions common in popular culture. Is the horse a sculpture? Or is it a workhorse standing in an ancient stable? Is it perhaps pressed into the service of some war machine? Regardless, the work is compelling as it portrays a despondent quality and can be interpreted in many ways.

Serena is refreshingly matter of fact about working in multiple modes, styles, and mediums. A brooding picture one day, a decorative floral still-life the next. Just outside her studio hangs a fine painting of a bull, observed and remembered from a tropical journey. It is painted with fluorescent squealing colours. A palette seemingly derived from gasoline spilled and separated out on wet and hot asphalt.

Warhorse - by Serena Love

Warhorse – by Serena Love

To Serena, “art tells a story.” It “deals with the ebb and flow of life [and is] an extension of where I am in life, always looking to the future.” There are many ways of working, to deliberately approach the process of making with an openness to what can happen and allow “the works become what they are meant to be.”

Only recently comfortable calling herself an artist, Serena has explored pop-up shows in the last couple years and presented her work at the Young At Art fundraiser for the Community Foundation in Grande Prairie in September 2016. Serena is also researching website options and an online store to market her work and is busy preparing for her upcoming solo exhibition at the Center for Creative Arts in March 2017.

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