Jolanta Pawlak – Artist, Sculptress, and Photographer

Jolanta Pawlak: Art and the desire to be an artist comes from a very private place in my psyche…it is a process that I find difficult to share with anyone, even those who are closest to me—because during the creation, I develop my ideas. Any comments or criticism may send me off in a different path than my original concept. So you will almost always find me working in solitude, or with my models only. Of course, I draw upon my formal training and then interpret my personal vision. Great masters at my art academy, like Abakanowicz, have certainly served as an inspiration for me; but when I am in my studio, it is simply the way the clay, wax, molten metals and other materials I work with can be manipulated to express textural relationships that create a visual story connecting man to nature.

You get your inspiration and materials for your artwork underwater. Is this a passion or a normal job?

-You are so right: I love diving into the ocean or into my own imagination, and from these depths I find a passion to create my art.

You live on Curacao—why did you move there? Is there something special to see there?

-A collector of my work introduced me to the island and was instrumental in putting together a meeting with the developers of the Kura Hulanda Museum and Hotel complex. The Museum has a marvelous collection of African art and sculpture, and their sculpture garden is one of the premiere places to gather for special events on the island. They were intrigued by my work documenting the „Faces of Curacao” and offered me a position as an artist-in-residence. This was a wonderful opportunity for me, because I could work in such inspiring surroundings and get to know so many people from diverse cultural backgrounds. During this time, I was able to finish some important pieces. The rich history of Curacao has created a cultural mix of Spanish, Dutch, African and Latin American influences—which is enough to inspire any artist. As a matter of fact, we have a thriving artistic community, which makes living on Curacao very special.

In May, you had an exhibition of your jewelry. What materials are you using to create these original things, and what kind of impressions do you have after an experience like this?

– At this exhibition in Chicago, I introduced my men’s collection, based on creating a modern wearable urban armor. I also exhibited a collection of large bronze sculpture rings that have a corresponding ring cast in fine silver for the hand. All of my jewelry work has a sculptural form, and is often described as sculpture for the body. And, of course, there were the gorgeous models in stunning evening wear adorned with some of my more glamorous pieces for women. The event was planned to showcase emerging Chicago fashion designers with established fine art jewelry designers. It created a unique synergy to showcase the best of Chicago design for a very successful fundraiser during Art Chicago. I am really impressed with how everyone in Chicago works together, to get things done and make people aware of fine art and design.

What do people and other artists say when looking at your artwork?

– I am always honored when anyone shows an interest in what I create. But the moments when people really enjoy my work are simply amazing… there have been times when people are even moved to tears and express other incredible emotions when they interact with my work. This is the greatest and biggest compliment for me.

What about the customers? I’m sure a lot of them buy your artwork.

– I have been blessed with clients who have become collectors and the galleries that represent my work do an amazing job, so I am able to keep creating and working as a full-time artist job in my studio and abroad when opportunities present themselves.

In what other places can we buy your artwork?

– Well, this changes from month to month, depending on my gallery openings and special art shows like SOFA Chicago and the annual Chicago Fulton Arts Walk each fall, where I have a weekend open studio exhibition. Gallery Biba on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach represents my sculpture in bronze; and if you are into global gallery-hopping, I really recommend a trip to Curacao, where you will of course see my most recent work at Gallery Maravia on the historic Handelskade in Punda and Gallery Alma Blou in Otrobanda. Here you will find my sculpture, jewelry and photography; and when it is exhibited as an entire collection, you begin to see the connection of how my work evolves. And, you can always stay upto- date by visiting my website: and at

Do you have any special memories from your childhood?

– I’m an artist; my mind has always been collecting experiences that I can translate into my work. But I think my family began to understand my artistic ways when my father and his artist friend took me climbing and I was looking for big rocks to carve, even though I was a very young girl. I was interested in using the tools they were using, especially the one my father’s friend used to sculpt stone. So, I began carving stone and wood as a way of expressing myself.

Do you think everybody can become an artist?

-I believe everyone should explore their creative side and try to express themselves. The creative process is what important, even thought the results may not be adjusted accordingto current standards. Seeking new ways to express ourselves is what helps society advance in new directions. It also helps you understand your own emotions. Not everyone is blessed with the same talent and skills, but expressing ourselves is what is important. This is why I believe art programs in schools are so necessary and important.

What do you think about beauty and love?

-I can find beauty in anything and everything— but love I have not yet found.

What do think would be the prettiest place in the world—a place that you would like to live in?

-You know that I am blessed to be living right now in a very beautiful place, the island of Curacao. But I am addicted to travel, and exotic places have always been attractive to me. And can never forget your roots. I am Polish and I would like to be grateful for the rest of my life that Polandis the country that is responsible for who I am; I’m always happy to return to Poland and show my international friends my beautiful homeland.

Who is your favorite artist?

-I work in various media, and so naming one favorite artist is difficult. In the area of photography, I guess I would say Tomasz Gudzowaty; for sculpture, Magdalena Abakanowicz and Richard Hunt; and for art jewelry, Miquel Berrocal. And I really need to mention Marian Kolodziej, who is famous for stage set design and has been a great influence on me.

What would you like to tell your fans?

-When people simply take a moment to stop and enjoy my work, I am thrilled. When they actually buy it, I am amazed and thankful. Sometimes it is hard to say goodbye to some of my work, but when it is sold, this helps to support my new projects and it makes me very thankful.

What’s your favorite dish?

-I am always traveling and discovering a new favorite dish in each world culture. I’m spoiled by my mother’s Polish cooking. She is a chef, and I was a challenge for her, because ever since I was young, I did not like to eat meat. If I have a choice, I will eat vegetarian food.

What are your future plans?

-I hope to create a monumental sculpture one day. I love working in large dimensions, and I have visions of a public piece that would incorporate all the mediums I work with.

Thank you for your time.

-Thank you.

Dorota Silaj spoke with Jolanta Pawlak

Translation by Monika Wisniewska


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