March 3 - 24
Public Reception: Saturday, March 3, 1pm-4pm

Serena Whaley has created a body of work from a woman’s perspective that explores and brings awareness to the emotions that stem from loss, abuse or illness. In a series of oil and acrylic paintings, her one-woman exhibition explores the hidden journey women must take to transcend beyond the pain to healing.  

“These paintings will show women in different emotional stages which I call passages,” explains Serena. “Some are in a portrait style, others are figurative paintings. All are conveying the deep emotion felt from shock and despair all the way to hope and strength.”  

Having this exhibition at the Chapel Gallery was important to Serena. “I have personally experienced every one of these emotions and know many other women who have as well,” says Serena who wants to continue learning new techniques to better express people’s emotions and help tell their story. “It is also a very relevant issue that is coming to the forefront in the news of late. I believe that every voice that speaks up can help others as they go through similar feelings and give them courage to find their own strength,” explains Serena. “My passion in painting is to evoke emotion, whether it is through an expression, with colour or the play between light and shadow. I hope to blend my personal experiences as a woman with my passion for expressing my feelings through my art.”  

Every painting was a learning experience for Serena as she tried to balance having a painting that was aesthetically pleasing yet able to convey the strength of an emotion and adding a voice to an experience that many women endure.  

As she struggled to find this balance, the act of painting was a joy as she lost herself in the process. As she paints, Serena listens to music and lets her emotions flow. She begins with an idea or photograph, which becomes a conte drawing in a sketchbook. Acrylic or oil paints are used to form the base of the painting. Then, layers of paint are applied to create detail, colour and style. 

Serena is currently intrigued with working with glazes to achieve depth and transparency. “I enjoy seeing a concept from my imagination take place on the canvas and then evolves as I paint,” remarks Serena.  

In a moment of candor, Serena reveals, “I feel that I have so much to still learn and at times, I feel frustrated in feeling that I lack sufficient knowledge and technical skill. However, this can also be exciting as I yearn to learn more and each thing learned builds my confidence and my excitement to continue learning. My goals are to continue to learn new techniques to better express the emotions I want to convey in each piece. I hope to continue painting people and capturing their story and their essence with the goal to travel to meet and paint many types of people.”  

For her art, people inspire Serena. “I feel that everyone has a story and l long to know it. Every person has a spark. I can learn something from every single person I meet,” says Serena. “If I can capture someone’s essence or soul in a painting, I feel that I have succeeded. Not every story is a happy one so I feel the need to express all emotions, to respect every feeling we have, so that we can embrace our own humanity and the beauty in it. I’m also inspired by light and shadow and the play between the two, which is similar to the play between happiness and sorrow and the dance our emotions play in life.”  

About her exhibition, Serena says, “I hope the viewers can either know they are not alone or open a dialogue between viewers as to the struggle every human experiences. I also hope that it will open people’s eyes to the struggles that we all face, namely women, dealing with trauma since that is my voice too.”

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