• Laura Vautour

THE CLASS OF 2020: Serena Kobayashi-LeBel

Serena Kobayashi-LeBel

York University



In my artistic practice, I find myself drawn to all things feminine and from nature, using the links between them to depict the complexities of the human psyche. Each subject matter for my paintings represents a different aspect of what it’s like to be human. Using connections on a scientific level to describe human emotions and tendencies. I hybridize portraits with natural imagery; connecting our sentience with our long-forgotten animalistic past in a way that helps us remember where we came from. I explore the way I have both seen other women express themselves, as well as how I express myself. What trauma is internalized, but peaks through as self defense? What coping strategies are externalized, emphasising to the world that we are okay? How do these parts of us get shifted and altered over time by our social conditioning and what can never be changed? What is there because it is sewn into the fabric of our DNA – like the flight, fight or freeze syndrome – and what do we develop with age? I spend a lot of time in the thinking process before I start a painting, specializing each piece towards one specific idea. This is the grounds for my latest body of work that I have been building over the last 2 years. In my painting “Like A Moth…” I consider human attraction and the urges that draw us towards an individual, often despite our best interests. A moth will fly directly into a fire because it is compelled towards the light, just as some people will run back into the arms of an abusive partner; or someone might cheat on a spouse, or willing stay with the wrong group of friends. Human nature is strange, and our behaviour patterns are even stranger. I feel compelled to work through this ideas in a way visual sense to better understand them, and honestly in the hopes of better understanding myself and why I sometimes behave the way I do.

1. Question Your Archives

Oil on Panel

36x48 inches


Shift your view of angels. Of the demure woman, passive and giving. Embrace the modern angels for the warriors they are.

2. Never Judge A Book…

Oil on panel

24 inches round



Beautiful on the outside, toxic to ingest. Lily of the Valley is an incredibly poisonous flower. When dealing with your surroundings, the most beautiful and innocent are not always what they appear to be.

3. Like A Moth…

Oil on panel

24x30 inches


Think about the fickleness of the human heart. It’s incredible how we can be inexplicably drawn to another person despite our better judgement. A kind of self-sabotage we call chemistry.

4. All Good Things Must…

Oil on Panel

24x48 inches


Obsession with the changing of leaves lives in all of us. A morbid love of their beautiful death. We both crave the release of falling from our tree, and fear what we will find on the ground.

5. The Grass is Always Greener…

Oil on panel

24x24 inches


It is in the nature of birds from the corvid family to covet shiny things. It is human nature to desire the thrill of something new. We always want what we already have.

What is the CLASS OF 2020? Click here!