Art has taken Serena Kovalosky from the bucolic countryside of Washington County and nearby Vermont to the cosmopolitan city of Montreal and the bustling streets of London. And now it has taken her to the northern reaches of Canada.
Kovalosky, an artist, curator, and cultural project organizer from Whitehall, embarked last Tuesday on a two-week curatorial excursion to the Canadian Yukon.
The trip is the first phase in the development of a cultural art exhibit that will feature the art of the Yukon’s most prolific artists.
“I love this project because it combines both of my passions: Travel and art,” Kovalosky said. “I enjoy experiencing different cultures. It’s going to be a really interesting excursion.”
Although Kovalosky spent nearly two decades in the travel industry before devoting herself solely to the pursuit of art, the trip will be the first time she has visited the northernmost expanse of the Western Hemisphere.
“I’m looking forward to experiencing the Yukon and seeing how the many cultures inspire and influence each other resulting in the magnificent artwork that is produced there.”
Kovalosky was invited to make the trip by Harreson Tanner, co-founder of the Yukon Artists at Work Co-operative in Whitehorse, the Yukon’s largest city and its capital.
The two met through mutual friends and have engaged in a near-constant dialogue about the project ever since.
“We’ve been discussing this for two years and he invited me out to meet the artists,” Kovalosky said. “I have been looking to curate art as a means to present culture.”
“There has been extensive discussion regarding a new arts and crafts strategy for the Yukon,” said Tanner. “A recurring theme has been the need to develop both national and international markets for artists in the Yukon Territory.”
While there, she will travel by motor coach throughout the territory, interviewing over a dozen artists, touring their studios, taking pictures and videos, and reporting live on her blog, Artful Vagabond.
The artists she will meet practice a wide range of media, from “a watercolor artist who’s famous for her paintings of Yukon winters, a Kaska First Nations carver who creates animal totems from moose and caribous antler, a Tutchone/Tlingit artist, a nationally renowned printmaker, and one of Canada’s premier knife-makers who was chosen by the Inuit people as the first shaman of the knives in 150 years.”
Despite the wide diversity of art, Kovalosky said almost all of it is influenced by the land and the culture.
“Less than half the artists are First Nations, but all the work is influenced in some way by the First Nations people and of living in the wilderness. They live at the edge of the wilderness and you can see that influence in their work,” she said.
The trip will help shape the exhibit, which is tentatively scheduled for 2014, and will tour selected museums in New York and New England.
“What I want for the exhibit is for people to walk in and feel the Yukon. I want to take down the barriers that sometimes exist between art and the public. Presenting artists to people is one reason why I’m really excited about this project,” Kovalosky said.