Transforming the humble gourd into playful people and whimsical animals is Jelena Clay’s hallmark. Being self-taught by a large library of Hawaiian craft and culture books, formal classes and guidance by Kumu Ray Kahikulaulani Fonseca, Jon Jon Hookano, Pam Barton, Wille Grey Eagle Maglophlin and numerous Lauhala Kumu have greatly influenced her fiber work. She is the daughter of Serbian immigrants and was raised in Saratoga, California. At 20 years old she relocated to the islands and has called Hilo home since then.
Since moving to the islands, she has had a fascination with fiber work and gourds, and the complicated techniques that Hawaiians use. Jelena shares “I am driven to create my work with absolute respect for Hawaiian culture and hope to inspire the viewer to learn more. I am fascinated by the deep connection Hawaiians have to the environment and hope to portray that in my pieces. I have been fortunate to be involved with the hula community and always give back generously when I can.
The Hawaiian culture is deeply rooted in nature which is her primary influence, and her work is a culmination of her island experiences and knowledge.
Jelena’s artwork is available in: