Originally from Ft. Madison, Iowa, Serena Stevens is a graduate student in the Painting and Drawing program at The University of Iowa. After receiving her BFA from Western Illinois University, she attended the Laguna College of Art and Design for one year. Following her time in California, she lived in New Mexico and Rhode Island before returning to Iowa as an Iowa Arts Fellow.
My work represents my interest in re-contextualizing found and personal images to form narratives reminiscent of life expectations, outcomes, and potential. I gather reference materials from both contemporary and antiquated sources, including a variety of magazines and books. These images typically show a sense of idealization or a representation of life-styles more lavish than my own. Particularly, I am interested in how our exposure to these images taints or skews our perception of our own lives. Through my collage-based process, the elements of each finished piece find each other and offer new meaning through sheer context; the result is often a pleasant illusion of an ultimately unsettling scene. Formal explorations of composition, color, and technique offer an unrelenting relationship between myself and the paint medium. Specifically, a focus on balancing the flatness of the surface with the depth within the image serves to not only reveal my physical working process but also a glimpse of each piece’s personal meaning, intentionally left open-ended, but wrapped in nostalgia, frustration, desire, and curiosity, among other emotions. Most recently, reoccurring themes include coming of age, transitions into adulthood, and nature vs. nurture.