Lena Verderano Reynoso is an artist, antiquarian, and scholar. She received her PhD from the University of California Berkeley. Her artistic and academic work is centered around American sideshows, presidential history, and popular culture. Her art has been featured on E! Online, Gawker, the WB, TMZ, Wired Images, the Rumpus.com, Alameda Magazine, Oakland Magazine, and many other publications and newspapers. She has published articles on folklore and Early American amusements in Proverbium, the Early American Review, and Psycho-Cultural Analysis of Folklore.
I live for creativity in all forms. I’m a human, a hapa, an INTP, and an artist (in no particular order). I’m married to the most fantastic man, who without, life would not be complete. We have been a pair, a team, and best friends for over 28 years. I have taken a long and sinuous road to get where I am, but I’ve stopped off at some interesting places along the way. In 1996 we sold everything we owned, purchased one way tickets, and took off to Indonesia. We met a fabulous painter named Symon, who reminded us that it is possible to live your dreams. Eventually, we opened up our “House of Art” gallery in Tirtagangga, Bali and spent over a year in total traveling throughout the Malay Archipelago. We have been back 8 times over the last 15 years. When we returned, I pursued my love for science and received my A.A. in Mathematics and transferred to U.C. Berkeley to study astrophysics. I eventually received my B.A. and M.A. (with a focus on Indonesian folklore) in South and Southeast Asian Studies (I told you it was a sinuous road!) at UC Berkeley. During this process, I lost my beloved muse, hero, and adviser, Alan Dundes, a man who taught me to ALWAYS follow my heart. After a difficult transition, I decided to move away from Southeast Asia and pursue my interests in Early American curiosities. I am fortunate to have been trained in folklore by the master himself, and I am now working to fuse my art and academic training together. I received an interdisciplinary PhD from the University of California in Anthropology, English, American Studies, History, and Folklore. My research focuses on early American exhibits and oddities and the corresponding narratives that coincide with this period (ie. Tales of Wonder, legends, and hoaxes). I am particularly interested in the display of humans and automata. As for my artistic nature, I’ve been creating art ever since I can remember. I’ve found work at Universal Studios doing set design and scenic painting for seasonal events (Area 51, Scream room, Psycho room), and designed batik soft sculptures in Bali. I love meeting people who are obsessed with “something.” I live for life and I finally decided to listen to the wise words of my late advisor and to follow my dreams of creating art while combining my interest in academics. I never thought it was possible to do both – but it is!
Dreams and Living are synonymous to those who are not afraid to follow their hearts.