Artist Madison Cowles Serna

My name is Madison Cowles Serna.  I am originally from Cheyenne, Wyoming. I currently live and work in San Antonio, TX​​.  I received a Master of Fine Arts (Art Studio) degree from the University of Kentucky in 2018 and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (printmaking) from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 2013.

Iris: This piece is actually one of my early paintings. It is actually one in a series of 5 from 2010. For a while I was very enamored with painting on wood, so this piece is acrylic on a 24"x24" wood panel. The portrait is of another artist and good friend of mine, Iris Cahill Casiano. During this period of time, the figures in my paintings and drawings had been feeling very stiff and plastic so I wanted to try and capture a figure with more genuine emotion. Iris and I did a photo shoot, each taking photos of the other for future works. This is the piece that arose from that afternoon. When I completed it, I felt that it was my best painting to date, by far.

I work in a variety of media including installation, painting, printmaking, and digital fabrication.  My body of work deals with a variety of topics.  These range from introspection, anxiety, and poetry to projects where I work with survivors of rape and abuse.  

Altar Ego: This painting is a self-portrait from around 2013. I used to get a lot of comments about how much self-portraiture I did. I think they thought that I was in some way worshiping my own image, that it came from a place of conceit. That is where the title, "Altar Ego" originated. Even now, I still do some form of self-portrait regularly. I have always used the act of painting and drawing myself as a way to check in with myself, a way to record how I was feeling and thinking at a certain point in my life. I love to use line and patterned mark-making as a form of expression, which I think you can see present and evolving in all three of these works.

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Tender Surface Rejected: "Tender Surface Rejected" is a favorite of mine. It is an acrylic painting on a 24"x30" canvas. I painted it in the summer of 2015, right before moving for grad school. Over the years I have gotten less attached to the idea of making perfect and realistically painted portraiture. The figures in my work have become increasingly androgynous and exaggerated. Now, if there is much of a reference to a specific gender, it is through symbolism or use of certain shapes. While making this piece I was thinking about those symbols and apparent signifiers of being feminine. Here I expressed the uncomfortable, alien feeling one can have because you feel like you don't or can't succeed at feeling and looking how you are "supposed" to.

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