Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Bob’s Art Blog: A “Polymath” Petal

A work by Jovana Sarver

Today, Sept. 22, marks the official start of autumn and seasonal wardrobe adjustments. Perhaps a darker palette of sweat pants and sweaters may be in order.

One thing for certain—masks have become de rigueur. The fall collections, women’s RTW (ready to wear) are now in stores and have been since early August. To my utter amazement on that month’s 11th day, an image came up on the “Gram” of a young woman “masked up,” as is the fashion these days, walking the “runway” dressed in a swirl of pastels. To her right, framing the dramatic entrance, was a breathtaking bouquet of yes, more pastel flowers… in a basket. It was glamorous, alluring and visually arresting, all rolled into one. That image was my introduction to the one and only Jovana Sarver (aka dirt.petal), her alias on the Gram.

The runway model visage is just one of many that Jovana has adopted in her repertoire. An artist of many faces and formats, she is without question a “polymath of the arts,” always full of surprises. Early on, she knew that the adventure of art would be a never-ending road to fulfillment and that every obstacle would become an opportunity. This was borne out in her days as a student at the Capital Area School for the Arts. Excelling there, she used her education as a springboard to further her zest for learning, laughing and living, moving onto studies at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. Undergrad studies converged at the corners of “surface design and sculpture.” No medium eludes, as she is equally skilled as a performance artist and sculptress, textile interpreter and major works art installer. From years in Philly, exhibiting at galleries, she made the leap abroad with other hand-selected international artists as part of “Summer We Go Public,” an outdoor textile installation in Iceland during her three-month summer intern stint.

Feeling the call to return home after a decade away, the central Penn native established herself as an interdisciplinary artist of renown, taking on art mediums as if they were dragons to be slain. Jovana is fearlessly entrenched, confident in her abilities as an artist and yet is the first to acknowledge she has much to learn, which makes her all the more admired and appreciated.

This challenging time has been one of adaptability and experimentation for all artists. Taking a page from the fashion annals, Sarver has immersed herself in the age-old art of Shibori fabric dyeing, turning out gallery-worthy pieces, yet perfect for everyday life. From jean jackets to leggings and everything in between, she infuses the mundane to become magical. Designers in the fashion world create mood boards, sources of inspiration for the next season before designing their next collection. Often, they have a muse, a central figure in their lives that inspires them. In Jovana’s case, she is often her own model, creating “cuteture” pieces before they reach the mainstream audience. Never one to stay fixed on a trend, she is on to the next thing “to drop.” With antenna poised skyward, she creates contained, select offerings for the set that subscribes to seasonal color and needs.

Of the moment, the perfect examples are masks (pictured), perhaps the one item that will remain a constant for the yet-to-be-determined future. Recently, Jovana has dabbled in digital animation on an experimental basis and is driven to capture the process, just getting her stylus warmed up for the next go around. An accomplished painter and muralist, both aspects reflect a seasoned artist fully aware of the greater landscape before her. Recent discoveries through experimentation have included using dyes on paper and ice dyes on fabric, which result in rhapsodic color explosions.

Truth be told, Jovana sees color everywhere; it’s in the very air she breathes. She, like her contemporaries at the Millworks, learned out of consideration for patrons, staff and artists, that the restaurant, gallery, brewery would be temporarily closed. Weekly pop-ups have been a go-to alternative, which is just one of her activist measures in her “taking-it-to-the-streets” philosophy. A socially conscious artist, she is quick to push for equality on all fronts, be it color, gender or other worthy causes, and carries that through to inclusion with her comrades in the art world, believing that, together, you can truly make a difference.

Mural on Sayford Street in Harrisburg

To her credit, she wants friends to also find the success she is achieving. In the end, if she can pay the bills by doing what she loves, then life is sweet indeed. Savvy marketing skills have resulted in “sold” and “sold out” signs with her Instagram offerings. I am not one to overlook talent in all its guises. Jovana is a social activist, muralist, a realist, a botanist, the “list of ist’s” goes on and on. Her hand-dyed and tie-dyed masks have become collectibles as they sell out before they’re dry on the line. Jovana is entertainer and entrepreneur, a DJ, an acrobat, a chanteuse, a tap dancer, a weaver, a spinner and a dreamer of dreams, sometimes so large she needs a beanstalk at the ready to reach them. If the category is “artistic,” she’s your daisy. In the flower that plays its role, “she loves me, she loves me not” theme, think of those petals being plucked as elements of art in its many forms, dropping to the ground representing those expressions of the genre she has conquered. For “dirt.petal,” those only lead to the next bouquet.

To learn more about Jovana Sarver, visit her website or Instagram at @dirt.petal.

Support quality local journalism. Join Friends of TheBurg!

Continue Reading