Everything about our life experience shapes how we view our surroundings, especially time. If you’ve ever gone back to visit a childhood playground or read love letters written by an old flame, you know that we can see the exact same sights with fresh eyes after we’ve had years to grow and change. One artist who utilizes her work to highlight this phenomenon is Serena Stevens.
Postmasters Gallery spent the month of September hosting an exhibition show for artist Serena Stevens. The show was titled ‘Iowa Dream’ and shares its title with an album from musician and Iowa native, Arthur Russell.
‘Iowa Dream’ involves a series of large scale paintings of intimate spaces and objects from Stevens’s everyday life. This includes areas like her studio, bedroom, desk, shower curtain, garden, etc. The series is provocative and has a deeply personal connection to Stevens’s life and journey.
You Can Go Home Again
Stevens grew up in Iowa, then moved away for six years and lived in various places such as Southern California, New Mexico, and New England. After spreading her wings of sorts, she moved back to Iowa and completed the ‘Iowa Dreams’ series. She depicts areas and sights that she had moved away from and then come back to, highlighting the bittersweet perspective between past and present. The paintings reflect how her perspective has changed since leaving home and how it has allowed her to see old personal spaces and objects anew.
The life-size nature of the paintings allows the themes and objects themselves to hit even closer to home, which is also a central theme of the exhibition. Said Stevens: “I think of home as both a place and a feeling, something both fleeting and everlasting. A source of potential comfort or contempt, a home sinks in its roots while remaining utterly receptible to being uprooted.”