Helen Ciesla Covensky
Helen Covensky, Polish/American (1925 - 2007)
Helen Covensky was born Hanka Ciesla, the daughter of a cultured Jewish family in Poland that supported her early interest in art. The Second World War changed her life completely. Her parents and sister died in concentration camps. Only she and her brother, David, survived.
Shortly after the war, she emigrated to the United States. At this time, she changed her name from Hanka to Helen, in memory of her mother, Helena. (Covensky often signs her work both Hanka Ciesla and Helen Covensky, expressing her sense of the continuity of life.) During the 1950's and 60's, she took courses in art history and other areas of the humanities at Wayne State University. In 1967, the outbreak of the Six-Day War in the Middle East led to a resurfacing of Covensky's feelings about her experiences in World War II. She had family living in Israel, and the fears of loss that she remembered from more than twenty years earlier came back in force. She felt that she had to express her emotions through some artistic medium, and with the encouragement of her husband, Milton; and a close friend, she began to paint.
In my lifetime, I have witnessed a world of extreme change which saw great destruction and rebirth: world war, a terrible holocaust, the displacement of millions of people, and the loss of my loved ones are part of this experience. The United States gave me the opportunity to search for growth, equality, and self-awareness. I ask myself: How can I unite in my own being these opposite forces? How can I give meaning, truth, and authenticity to myself and the world around me? I try to do this through my art.
My paintings are always in process. They are "action paintings". In them, I sense and feel the flow of life as an inner experience and vision. Just as nature and life cannot be frozen, my paintings affirm the vital energy, dynamism, magic, and mystery of my world. I seek to capture a sense of constant motion and restlessness through the use of form, color, composition, and texture.
Painting for me is an absolute necessity, expressing personal needs, a constant struggle, and a never-ending search to portray the reaffirmation of life.
-Helen Ciesla Covensky