Let me tell you a story. I was invited to participate in a show entitled Gaia’s Lament, Earth Cry. It sounded like a gloomy theme, so I did what I often do in this situation: I looked for the story at the center.
I paid a visit to the hosting gallery, a reclaimed old restaurant, and in the basement I discovered a doorway that had been bricked over and closed permanently. Where had that door gone? Who had bricked it over—and why? My mind immediately went to Edgar Allen Poe, The Telltale Heart, The Cask of Amontillado—and I saw a crow, warning “Nevermore” if we don’t change our ways.
As I climbed the winding, creaky staircase up to the gallery, that crow grew into an entire flock—a murder of crows, ascending in dire warning from basement to second floor, winding up the stairs, perching on sills, glaring from moldings, swooping from the ceiling. —and The Hartford Courant described the set of sculptures that resulted from this vision as “the show-stopper.”
Stories are what define my work, what drive my vision, what inspire my hands…my life. My sculptures bring those stories to life, incorporating a symbiotic mixture of ideas and visions from people around me, the environment and materials where I’m working, and that sudden burst of illumination—often coming after I’m well into the sculpting process.
The stories cover a spectrum of genres, from the comic Three Stooges fountainheads squirting water from pursed lips, or a cat staring down a mouse, to Alice in Wonderland. Life’s stories plant seeds in my mind, take shape in my soul, and are born through my sculptures.
To date, I feel the most significant accomplishment I have made in my life is overcoming obstacle after obstacle, setbacks, naysayers and disappointments to pursue my art and never giving up. I could not survive if I did not have my art. It has been the one stable constant, the source of strength and comforting companion to me through the many ups and downs in my life. I make art because I don’t know how not to. This is why I am here. Whether someone loves or hates my art, as long as I move them in some way with my quirkiness or storytelling, I have done my job.
Serena Bates is an established artist with a long list of accomplish-ments. She is an elected member of Salmagundi Club, the Mystic Museum of Art, the National Sculpture Society, the Society of CT Sculptors, the CT Academy of Fine Artists, and the Lyme Art Association. She is also an elected member of and served on the Board of Directors for the Catherine Lorillard Wolf Art Club, the oldest women’s art club in the nation.
Having work in collections around the world including England, Canada, and across the United States, Serena is well known in local and national circles. Mystic Marriot Hotel, CT, features Serena’s “Beached Whale Fountain” as the centerpiece of their main entrance courtyard. Stand Up for Animals prominently displays “Zhen Zhen”, the beautiful bronze cat outside the entrance to the Westerly Animal Shelter, RI, and the Westerly Animal Hospital, RI, features one of her sea lions prominently at their entrance. Pleasant View Inn, RI, displays her majestic life-sized sculpture “Stellar Expectations” in the main dining gallery, while her commemorative bust of “Lennie Colucci” sits atop the bar at The Andrea, RI, where he enjoys countless photo-ops with patrons.
As a sculptor, Serena has won many awards, recognitions, and honors during her career, from the National Arts Club, the Salmagundi Club, Society of CT Sculptors, the Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Club, the Academic Artist Association, Mystic Museum of Art, and the Alexy von Schlippe Gallery at the University of Connecticut, to name only a few.
Serena describes herself as a story teller. She is a representational artist with an affinity for portraits and animals, working in clay, bronze, and stone. Being non-traditional in her approach, she usually does not take measurements, but instead relies on her eye and sense of observation to interpret a subject. This approach produces what she calls a “wabi-sabi” affect, a Japanese term that literally means the beauty found in imperfection or “imperfectly perfect.”
She began her journey studying at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts and the Rhode Island School of Design. There she studied with renowned sculptors Elizabeth Gordon Chandler, Don Gale, Laci Degerenday as well as classical painting and drawing with Aaron Shikler, Dean Keller and Dan Gheno. She furthered her studies with an internship at the Kane Sculpture Studio and Foundry where she learned the process of lost wax casting. Presently Serena is furthering her education in learning the art of ceramic sculpture