Posted April 10, 2014 by Cooper Point Journal in Arts & Entertainment
 
 

Artist Statement: Serena Imani Korn

Collage by SERENA IMANI KORN

Collage by SERENA IMANI KORN

(two last names, no hyphen, and no, I have NO affiliation with koRn)

BY SERENA IMANI KORN

Uh, I am an artist. I guess. I really have never considered myself an “artist.” I make art, so I suppose that makes me an artist? But I’m far from classically talented. I can’t really paint, I can’t really draw, and I can’t watercolor to save my life. I struggle a lot to translate ideas and images in my mind to physical manifestations. My mind is a god damn museum. I’m better than Picasso or van Gogh. But most of my attempts look like a child’s art project.

Where I really flourish is through collage, decoupage (glue and tissue paper—I use it like paint), and photography. My obsession with collaging steps, in part, from my low-income background. I have never been able to afford classes or supplies, so I began using supplies I didn’t have to buy. Every single piece I use in a collage is recycled I save every tiny scrap of magazine or non-themed wrapping paper. Growing up poor, you develop an inability to throw things out—especially things most (non-poor) people would take to the dump.

I have crates and folders filled with clippings and used magazines (including 100 Time magazines from the ‘90s to early 2000s). I save calendars, I cut up used posters, and I save the tissue paper from the gifts you give me and the gifts I give. When I see a box or trash bag filled with old magazines, I find it incredibly difficult to stop myself from taking them. I took the stack of Time magazines out of the trash in the history classroom in high school. I only recently stopped taking magazines because I don’t have the space.

Collage by SERENA IMANI KORN

Collage by SERENA IMANI KORN

I also utilize old art books. I love taking clips of other people’s art, reworking it, and creating my own image. At Strand Book Store in New York City, the home of 18 miles of new, used, and rare book, they have racks on the sidewalk of old books for $1. The last time I was there, I grabbed an armload of art books. My returning luggage was too heavy, but for $10-$15 I have a practically unlimited supply of clipping material. Decoupage is also incredibly cheap. I can get tissue paper at the Dollar Store, or for a couple dollars, I can get a fancier kind of paper. I am also a hawk at birthday parties and Christmas—I swoop in and take all the usefull tissue paper. Even if it’s ripped or wrinkled, I can still use it. I just rip and wrinkle it anyway and it all comes out in the glue (a bottle of Modge Podge lasts a very long time).

Digital photography is also an affordable medium—once I could get enough money to buy a camera. I worked for two years on a farm to save $1000 to get a DSLR camera. Of course, within a month, it was outdated and almost useless. I have a lot of bitter feelings toward privileged kids who have their parents buy them a Nikon D5000 for their birthday and a new telephoto lens “just because.” But I can still create great images with my outdated camera. These days, I prefer photojournalism. I love documenting reality and providing visual information to people. Hopefully one day I’ll have enough money to upgrade to a higher quality camera with better capabilities, including video, and different lenses.

Collage by SERENA IMANI KORN

Collage by SERENA IMANI KORN

I went through a phase a few years ago, where I bought three plastic film cameras: a Holga 35mm with a fisheye lens extension, a split cam, and a fisheye camera. I really enjoyed using these cameras, but developing film was expensive. I currently have20 rolls of film that have yet to be developed because food is usually more important than photos.

Making art feels really great. I make art, not for other people, but just for myself. When I dive into a project, I really dive in. It just doesn’t feel satisfying if I’m not at the bottom of a scrap pile, covered in glue or paint. I put my whole body into making art. Even with photography, I put my body into atypical places and positions to capture various perspectives. I’ve never sold my art and I rarely give it away. I make my art for me. I want to keep and enjoy my art. But most of the art I have is from high school. At some point, I’m going to have to be comfortable parting ways. I want to share my art with others. Gracing the cover of the “Cooper Point Journal” is the first step.

Maybe one day my art will be at the Modern Museum of Art, and a young teenager will see it and think, “how the fuck is this art?” Just like I did.