December 25, 2018 Artist to Watch: Serena Pandos
A Perfect Combination of
Arts & Sciences
We are excited to welcome Serena Pandos into the Baton Rouge community. She will be taking over the position of President & Executive Director of the Louisiana Art & Science Museum in early 2019, filling the shoes of (the well loved) Carol Gikas as she retires. Pandos is a rare gem, happily bridging the “left-brain / right-brain” divide that we all struggle with. She is as comfortable in the studio as she is in administrative rolls and has proven quite successful at both, with dual master’s degrees in Fine Arts, as well as Arts Administration. She’s studied and shown her artwork internationally, and has over 15 years of arts and museum leadership under her belt. We feel that we are in for something special with her in our ranks!
In addition to being all that & a bag of chips, she’s also generous with her time. Serena sat down with us and let us in on her background and studio life so that we could all get to know her better.
Were you an artsy kid?
I suppose so, yes. Throughout my elementary and high school years, my parents enrolled me in art lessons over the summer breaks. I especially enjoyed the “Young People’s Art Studio” which is still held each summer at the Maryland Institute College of Art. The campus was inspiring; full of sculptures by Rinehart and other masters who worked in the classical style. Growing up in Baltimore, Maryland gave me easy access to the museums in the north-east corridor; Baltimore, Washington D.C. and New York. Museums have always fascinated me; opening my eyes and mind to other cultures, traditions, journeys, and forms of expression.
Did you seek out formal training in the arts or art history?
Yes, from the very beginning, electing to major in art at Friends School in Baltimore, to continuing studies at the Parsons School of Design, and the Art Students League of New York. While living in New York, I won an apprenticeship with Maestro Arturo Di Modica involving the creation of the iconic “Charging Bull” in Manhattan’s financial district. After my apprenticeship, I traveled to Paris, Italy and Egypt to visit the museums, cathedrals, temples and archeological sites. When I returned, I completed my undergraduate studies. I earned my BFA in Sculpture from The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), my MAAA from Goucher College, and my MFA from the University of Texas.
During my undergraduate years at MICA, I participated in an exhibit called “Going for Baroque” developed by The Walters Art Museum and The Contemporary Gallery. The exhibit opened a dialog about Baroque Art and what was going on during that time in history. Students from MICA and artists such as Cindy Sherman, Donald Judd and Frank Stella were selected to participate in the exhibit, side by side with us MICA students. It was amazing to see how so much of the work tied together, focusing on various aspects of the Baroque period, despite our different journeys.
During my last year at MICA, I started working at the Walters Art Museum and as an apprentice for Raymond Kaskey, another civic monument sculptor in Washington, D.C. During my apprenticeship with Raymond Kaskey, I was asked to help assist in the production of three civic monuments; two located in front of the Ronald Reagan Courthouse in Santa Ana, California and another one in Knoxville, Tennessee.
After undergraduate college, I began working at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. I became interested in their collection of Byzantine Icons and had the wonderful opportunity to learn more about this extraordinary art form at the St Thomas Seminary, in Bloomfield. CT., I began working in egg tempera, gold leaf and natural pigments to try and get a sense of what the early monks were doing in the Medieval and Renaissance years.
Who are your influences for your current studio practice?
There are so many, and a wide range of them: Klimt, Kandinsky, Matisse, Pollock, Sargent, Rothko as well as many contemporary artists. And then there are the many anonymous artists I admire who created magnificent illuminations in Medieval rare books and manuscripts.
Does your arts administrative work cross over into your studio life, & how do you find the balance?
It does. I love working in paper. As an arts administrator, so much of my work involves paper. I use paper every day for helping me map out thoughts, ideas, and plans. In the studio, using paper as a form of expression is a terrific panacea for any kind of obstacles that I may be encountering. One thought leads to the next. It gives me the time to disengage, recalibrate, and rejuvenate. It takes some discipline. When I have a show I need to prepare for, it just happens.
What are some important things you've learned in your administrative life?
There’re so many things. I suppose one of the most important things is to treat people the way you want to be treated. Also, the work-life balance is really important. My thesis research involved the arts and medical science, investigating what science is a saying about the arts and the creative process itself. Art making is good for people. And it’s exciting to see this being demonstrated in new science, on a neurological and biomedical level. It’s no longer a theory, it’s a fact. These medical science advancements are shaping a new role for the arts in the 21st century and beyond.
What are you looking forward to?
I am looking forward to making Baton Rouge my home, meeting people in the community and serving as the new President & Executive Director for the Louisiana Art & Science Museum. My husband and I love the area, and the people too. I have always looked up to the LASM and admired Carol Gikas for her lifetime achievements at the LASM, shaping and inspiring a love for life-long learning. The LASM Board of Trustees and Staff have given me such a warm welcome. We are looking forward to living Downtown. We enjoy the energy and being in the hub of the cultural arts scene. Also, I am looking forward to working with the Board and Staff and entire community through the LASM. I know I will have some very big shoes to fill in following Carol Gikas. She has given her life to the LASM and the Baton Rouge Community. Her legacy is one that I am looking forward to continuing.
Where can people find your work online or in person?
In person, my work is currently being presented in the solo exhibition “A Visual Note” at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Performing Arts Center, in Edinburg, Texas. My website is www.serenpandos.com.
Advocate Article announcing Serena Pandos position appointment with the Louisiana Art & Science Museum