Gourd and fiber artist (and Big Island real estate professional with Clark Realty’s Hilo office) Jelena Clay, R(S) recently passed along information about her current exhibit, now open at the Volcano Art Center at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The exhibit, which features gourds decorated with pyrography and fiber by Jelena as well as ipu heke and umeke by Kalim Smith, is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. Entrance to the exhibit is free, but park fees apply to enter Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
From the VAC website:
Jelena moved to Hawaii after graduating from high school in Saratoga, California. Her family had emigrated from Serbia, and she was of the first generation to be born in the United States. Since first moving to the islands, she always had a fascination with fiber work and gourds, and the complicated techniques that the early Hawaiians used. She is mostly self taught, with a large library of Hawaiian craft and culture books.
Jelena takes classes whenever she can, and has been tutored by Kumu Ray Kahikulaulani Fonseca, Jon Jon Hookano, Pam Barton, and Willie Grey Eagle Maglophlin. Jelena mixes modern techniques with traditional Hawaiian techniques to create bold pieces with Hawaiian cultural themes. She draws her images on the gourd, then uses pyrography tools to burn the image permanently. Dremel tools are used to engrave, and many different stains and dyes are layered to achieve the desired effect. An average piece may take a week or longer to create.
“I am absolutely driven to create my work and create with absolute respect for the Hawaiian culture. I am fascinated by the deep connection the early Hawaiians had to the environment and hope to portray that in my work. I have been fortunate to be deeply involved with the hula community and always give back generously when I can,” she says.