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Art & Life with Lena Wolek

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lena Wolek.

Lena, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I grew up in small town in Siberia on the shores of Lake Baikal and moved to LA about 17 years ago. Many generations of my family were employed at a porcelain factory near the city of Irkutsk. I grew up around the industrial process of dinnerware absorbing the language but never had the chance to work at the place for it had closed down by the time I grew up. However, life proves to make circles and I ended up working with clay, although on the opposite side of the globe, exploring it on by my own. I made my first cup in a community college class and in my mind said to my grandma, who designed chinaware patterns at the factory, “Look, I’m doing the same stuff you dedicated your life to!” I tried and tasted lots of different materials for my art—from recycled clothes and plastic bags to painting and printmaking—but clay always kept closest to my hear. For me, ceramics is a third side of the triangle of my joy, along with gardening and cooking in from my urban vegetable and fruit garden here in LA. Fire transforms soil into a hard object, which holds our food on its surface. Likewise, most of our food is also comes from the soil and cooks on fire. I enjoy working with raw clay as much as I love to feel the soil with my bare hands and knowing how much life is in it.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
As much as making concept-based sculptures, I equally enjoy making functional pottery objects. My inner artist and true inspiration comes from drawing that I’ve been doing since I could hold a pen in my hand. My parents kept me occupied by supplying with think drawing pads with pens. Somehow, I preferred pen to pencil right away. I think I liked a quality and confidence of line and inability to erase it, knowing there was clear page coming next if I needed to start all over. Since discovering ceramic surfaces to draw onto, I quit paper and canvas, because making an object; drawing on it, and then using it in daily life is more complex and more satisfying. It is like buying one thing and getting a second and a third thing as gifts. I seldom repeat the same drawing, so it makes each piece one-of-a kind. It is unique and affordable but also useful and playful. I like humor and a bit of a biting message illustrating an imperfect human nature. I use animals as characters, but they represent us in their actions and poses. I prefer to draw on functional mugs, plates, pitchers and such because they are intimate companions in people’s everyday life versus dusty collectables on shelves or walls that live on their own, often unnoticed and forgotten. I like that people touch, hold, move my pieces every day, have favorite coffee in my mug or a cereal in a bowl they love every morning. That makes me happier than any other art satisfaction.

How do you think about success, as an artist, and what do quality do you feel is most helpful?
For me success is an internal happiness about what I am doing. The contributors are trust and honesty with oneself in what is the most natural and joyful process of art making. It is hard to identify it though in the era of pouring imagery and masses of external influences. One way to look for that inner I in an artist is to make art for oneself, not for friends, or magazines, or galleries, but for one, we love the most: our self. It’s the best gift we can give ourselves, to be ourselves. At that moment the uniqueness and inner depth get unveiled and become clear. Some like to use word “talent” as an ingredient for success. I prefer “passion, honesty, and trust” towards one’s inner creator, that is essential in making the most unique and original art, or any other work.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
People can see my work on my Instagram: rukiart and website:

Also, can purchase my pottery at Gjusta Goods store in Venice and New Stone Age store near West Hollywood.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
My personal portrait is credited to Sandra Mann.

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