In art there lies a story with every piece. The story of how the art came to be, its creation by the artist, and the story of what it means to the person who purchases and appreciates the artwork.
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Serena Bates captures the art of storytelling in each piece she creates. In the renovated barn she rents in Westerly each sculpture, portrait, and plaster displayed is defined by a story. “I am pretty quirky in my work and convey the feeling of story,” explains Serena as she walks around the workspace pointing out her unique creations.
On one of her workshop shelves sits a seal posed sideways, made of ceramic its scared but spirited eyes are lifelike, the marks of a net wrapped around its body represent its capture and tell the story of a Survivor, aptly named.
Her work can be found throughout Westerly, Connecticut, New York, and Boston. Her sculptures were recently showcased at the Hoxie Gallery in the Westerly Library, with the All Mixed Up Art Exhibit. And if you have been to Phoenix in Pawcatuck, a music supper club you might have seen her Crows artwork flying around the Crows Nest private event room located inside the renovated music and restaurant venue.
A few years ago her sculptures titled A Murder of Crows were an inspiration from a show at the Hygienic Art Gallery in New London called Gaia’s Lament: Art Cry. She had them strategically placed throughout the gallery to capture the mood of the exhibit and they were so popular she sold them all. When the Phoenix opened last year she recreated them again for the theme of the Crows Nest gallery, which she runs featuring local artists that display their work.
She was excited recently when she found out her Dreamer limestone sculpture had been accepted to the American Society of Marine Artists (ASMA)18th National Traveling Exhibition. Serena, an ASMA member submitted her mermaid limestone sculpture for the maritime theme back in October and was so thrilled when it was accepted for this prestigious exhibit that begins in March of this year.
Her Dreamer piece will tour museums all around the country starting with the opening show at the Third National Marine Art Conference in Jamestown, RI. Dreamer will go on with the traveling exhibit to tour museums including The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s, Maryland, the GulfQuest National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico in Mobile, Alabama, and the Burroughs-Chapin Art Museum in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, concluding the show at the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona, Minnesota in September of 2021.
“If you’re an artist you have to create and get it out there. My heart is with the sculptures but you also have to eat,” says Serena. Being versatile in her mediums and happiest when she is creating art Serena also paints portraits and does drawings from her studio where she captures the spirit and life of the person or animal. She invites live models in the summer to come sit and also brings to life the person from a photograph.
She describes her passion for art as something she had been doing since she was really young and had always “dappled in it” however she did have aspirations of being an anthropologist at one point early on in her life. Earning a business degree served her well as she is also co-proprietor of Pete’s Grocery in Bradford and with managing her art selling business. “It all worked out the way it should; good education, right teachers and right people. I didn’t know how to not be an artist, you will wither up if you don’t do it.”
Each room in her art barn is a workspace from the huge kilns where she holds pottery classes, to the unique collection of shells she found over the years in Cape Cod from her trips to the dunes of the cape artist colony and the rocks she uses to mount her copper flowers on. “I sort of collect stuff.”
The second floor is where all the grunt work happens as she describes it. The airy space displays her molds and is where she really works to create her pieces which can take anywhere from a month if she is working on a plaster piece depending upon the size to three months if she is creating a bronze sculpture. She uses a foundry in Canton MA for her bronze sculptures and does most of her casting (making a mold) in Florence, Italy where she says its cheaper to buy the metal material and even to ship it back to the states.
She hopes to create an art community at the renovated barn, bringing together like-minded individuals to create art together. She also offers classes for small groups, parties, as well as private lessons. Local watercolor artist and illustrator Susan Stone will join forces with Serena soon and rent studio space in the barn to create her art.
“I wait till pieces are done and let them lead me where they are going to go,” says Serena. “The universe brings me where it goes.”
For more information about Serena Bates, her art, classes, and exhibits visit: serenabates.com