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  • Writer's pictureBalkan Art Scene

Mirela Kulovic — Artist With Balkan Roots Planting Seeds Around the Globe

Author: Hana Tiro

Mirela Kulovic is a painter based in Boston. She grew up in urban, seaside Croatia as well as rural Bosnia-Herzegovina. These different worlds played a major part in developing Mirela's interest in the visual exploration of individual memory.

She is fascinated by the role of trauma, imagination, forgetting and oral narrative in building collective memory. Her artwork -- spanning paintings, drawings and text -- is process-oriented and characterized by violent accidental marks, which are often accompanied by repetitive marks, symbols, numbers, letters and paint-pouring.

Mirela Kulovic

We spoke with her about her drawings from series Stamina, Culture Association Kontrast, Dragana’s Salon and Calabash Project.

“I am working on a few series of drawings. One is about time and endurance and it is called STAMINA. I started this series in 2019. It is small scale and it is done in my apartment. I played and explored repetition by adding many small lines and dots with pencils, but many marks are done also by oil crayons. Sometimes I use ink or watercolors. I am interested in the simple materials, equipment you can find in every art class in elementary school. Some of these drawings have writings. This is first time I am playing with words in my artwork.”

STAMINA, Mirela Kulovic

STAMINA, Mirela Kulovic

STAMINA, Mirela Kulovic

STAMINA, Mirela Kulovic

Mirela started exploring drawing since she began her art practice. It gives her the possibility for intimacy and slowing down. She says that by slowly observing movement of her hand, fingers, pencil, thinking and feeling process, she can experience the possibility of transcendent transformation of drawing practice.

“I believe individual experience gives the opportunity for visual language to develop further. I want to be able to develop my unique visual language, in other words, I am interested in building a distinct visual vocabulary.”

Her collaborative works include multiple international artistic and cultural projects that address and respond to the social, cultural, and psychological needs of distressed and displaced communities.

She believes in the power of art and culture to give a voice for overlooked groups like young artists ages from 13 to 30. In 2019 she Co-founded the Culture Association Kontrast in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“I co-founded Kontrast because I believe many young people have fresh ideas and they want and need support to make them happen. Young artists have much enthusiasm and this is the energy I want to be part of.”

“I am interested in creating new artistic spaces where I would be challenged by other artists. With collaboration and working together as a team of artists and creative people many interesting things can happen. From my personal experience interdisciplinary collaborations is something that can help every individual to observe one situation from many different angles and develop imagination.”

Umihana Krličević Omerović, Melida Travančić i Mirela Kulović

Founders of KONTRAST Association

“I am interested in new narratives that could be created in Bosnia and Herzegovina by recognizing unique experience of local people and their local knowledge. I am curious to meet more young artists in Bosnia and Herzegovina and together with my team in Kontrast make their art practice more visible.”

Mirela is a collaborator on Dragana’s Salon in Brooklyn, NY created by Dragana Bogavac, a space for artists to co-create works through different mediums with the emphasis on the process of making art and constructing knowledge. It’s experimental in nature and explorative in its mission to experience art.

Mirela Kulovic and Draga Bogavac

“I am interested in collaborative projects around the world. I believe in the power of collaboration and inspiration. This is what many musicians know, but other artists sometimes spend too much of the time on their own, alone in the collaborative work many magical things are happening.”

Besides her artistic practice she often looks for unique projects, her curiosity expanded on calabashes, known as the bottle gourd. Scientists have long been impressed by the triumph of calabash, people have been using them for over ten thousand years and they have been spread on all continents.

“My recent Calabash project is collaboration with farmers in small villages in Bosnia and Herzegovina. For the last five years we were planting the seeds to grow gourds (calabash) to be able to make interesting objects. They could be used as practical everyday objects like bottle gourd, or as a base for the music instruments and much more, but for me they are more aesthetic inspiration to look at. I am fascinated with them and I enjoy so much in creating calabash objects that are collectible and unique."

CALABASH, Mirela Kulovic

CALABASH, Mirela Kulovic

CALABASH, Mirela Kulovic

"Calabashes are magical. They have many different symbolic meanings. Also, it is used in traditional systems of medicine. I am researching and would like to connect with people who might be interested in this project. So far I discovered four people in the region who are growing their own calabashes and use them in a unique way."

Follow Mirela Kulovic's work on her Instagram account, YouTube channel, and website.


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