My fascination with altars, shrines, collages, and found objects began in a tiny square along Oaxaca’s Avenida Independencia. It was there I saw a sign for La Soledad, at an entrance to a church. Inside I found a shrine to the Virgin of Soledad, a room packed with icons of saints, silver trinkets, plastic toys, and random discards—whatever visitors happened to have when they came. I spent an hour working my way through the pyramids of treasures. In my paintings, totems, collages and shrines, I juxtapose the ordinary with the holy, using detritus of pop culture, folk art imagery, and religious iconography. I try to recreate the feeling of La Soledad, a place filled with things easy to overlook, the setting making them sacred. These works reflect my worry about memories, how they fade and become static snapshots rather than a continuous narrative. By creating these pieces, I’m constructing a fuller memory of a place, moment, feeling, or experience. I want my work to conjure up dusty corners of city neighborhoods; a Mexican town with blue paint spilled on a street corner; my baby's jungle dreams; and my grandmother’s cigar box stashes of costume jewelry, carpet samples, and Hitchcock magazines. I see beauty everywhere—a rap star’s suit, a skull souvenir from a touristy graveyard, the strands of a plastic beaded curtain. The objects often have color in common. In my work are the Kodachrome colors of Indian pop posters and the wild contrasts of commercial packaging. My pieces often incorporate religious symbols. As an atheist, I have an outsider’s fascination with religion. I am consumed by ideas of how religions function and sustain people. While religious folk art and visionary art influence me, I am most interested in Mexico’s various traditions in religious iconography—retablos, ex-votos, milagros, nichos, saint depictions, altars—and how it combines humor with pathos. There are many collage and assemblage artists I admire, but installations, particularly those by Michael McMillan, Ed and Nancy Reddin Kienholz, and Gabriel Orozco, inspire me. Their work reflects the litter of consumerism but also honors the objects with which people surround themselves to forget their mortality—the tombs of the living.
Biography: Serena Makofsky’s collages, assemblages, and altars reflect a fascination with religious symbolism, pop culture, Mexican folk traditions, and language. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and Art History. She has worked in the arts—including visual arts; writing; editing; art instruction; and museum and gallery administration—since 1986. For the past 15 years, Serena has edited and written for Have You Seen the Dog Lately? a quarterly Oakland zine that explores the intersection between pop art and high art. Exhibitions "Jungle Totems", Cafe Arrividerci, San Rafael, California, 2004. "Altars and Icons", On Mars, San Francisco, California, 2004. "Art for the Masses", Pirate Tattoo, San Francisco, California, 2004. “Day of the Dead Salon”, Rohan Lounge, San Francisco, California, 2003. “Homeland Security Show”, ABCO Waterproofing, Oakland, California, 2003. “Missing Persons”, Pro Arts Gallery, Oakland, California, 2003. “Dia de los Muertos”, Viveza Gallery, Seattle, Washington, 2003. “Autumn Show”, Faith Simply Magical Living, San Francisco, California, 2003. “VYBZ”, Club Six, San Francisco, California, 2003. “PAC Session”, Waves Saloon, San Jose, California, 2003. “Particle”, SubLounge, San Francisco, California, 2003. “ViV and a Movie”, Red Devil Lounge, San Francisco, California, 2003, 2004. “Open Studios”, Pro Arts Gallery, Oakland, California, 2002, 2003. “COMIKZ Sequential Art Show”, Whitney Young Cultural Center, San Francisco, California, 2003. “Cross-Pollination”, Black Box Gallery, Oakland, California, 2002-2003. “Hellhaus”, Mission Badlands/Balazo Gallery, San Francisco, California, 2002.
Country: United States
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