Emerging into his own
Photographer Vlad Serdiuk won a first-place award in Ocala’s recent emerging artist exhibition and has much more to come.
For Volodymyr “Vlad” Serdiuk, it’s been a long journey from his hometown in Mykolayiv, Ukraine, to his first-place award in Ocala’s recent emerging artist exhibition.
The exhibition is presented by the city of Ocala and the Magnolia Arts Xchange. The awards have been presented annually since 2016. This year’s exhibition is titled “Metamorphosis” and is on display at City Hall through Oct. 12.
Serdiuk, 43, won first place in the 6-10 years’ active category for his color photo “Sea Star,” taken along the shores of the Sebastian Inlet.
Serdiuk emigrated to the U.S. almost 20 years ago to work as a cook at Yosemite National Park, where he sketched mountains and valleys and snapped wildlife with cheap point-and-shoot cameras before he was able to purchase his first Canon and all the accompanying lenses and other accessories.
“The Yosemite Valley itself hasn’t changed, just maybe the experience and the services and the rules,” Serdiuk said. “You need to plan in advance, and everything is only by appointment, but it’s still worth it to go to the park. There is nothing else like it.”
Serdiuk has taken photos across the U.S. He now lives in Clermont with his wife, Laura, also a professional photographer and also among the winners in Ocala’s emerging artist competition. She came up with the idea for 22 Moments, the photography business they run together.
Along with taking fine art and commercial photos, Serdiuk makes a living repairing air-conditioners and is a handyman. He got a degree in management from a shipbuilding university in the Ukraine.
With all of the accomplishments of this shutterbug Renaissance man, he’s rather modest and self-effacing about his images, which range from stark black-and-white street photography to sweeping, colorful landscapes to candid wildlife and portraits.
There are no photos of him, self-portraits or otherwise, on his Instagram page. The photos that do exist of him were taken by his wife. Laura, incidentally, is featured as his “favorite model” in several of his images, and he cringes when asked to choose which images to share with the newspaper. He said he’s going to take some down from his Instagram page.
“I’m very choosy when it comes to my photos,” he said with a laugh.
But don’t confuse a lack of self-promotion with shyness. Serdiuk reveals a curious mind, a dogged work ethic and the no-nonsense confidence of a skilled professional artist in conversation. Social media is the least of his concerns.
“I’m not completely active on Instagram,” Serdiuk said. “And, basically, the last picture I shot was Feb. 16, 2022. So, Feb. 24 that year, Russia invaded my country at night. That’s basically my last post on Instagram. … Emotionally, it’s really frustrating since it’s been a year and it’s every day, which is stressful for us all the time.”
Serdiuk’s immediate family doesn’t live in the occupied territories, but the bombings have hit scarily close at times.
Working on his photos has provided Serdiuk a much-needed distraction. A win in the 2023 Student and Emerging Artist Exhibition “Metamorphosis” also helped.
The winners were announced on April 24. They include high school winners “Flying Through Life,” by Athena Tarnowski, first place; “Transparent,” by Yeymarie Cortes, second place; and “North Pine,” by Milo Moore, third place.
In the 1-5 years’ active category, “What Doesn’t Kill You,” by Brittney Santana, first place; “Under Construction II,” by Laura Serdiuk, second place; and “King Fisher,” by Janelle Worley, third place.
Joining Vlad Serdiuk in the 6-10 years’ active category are “True Transformation,” by Ryan Neumann, second place, and “Incoming Front,” by Ali Graves, third place.
Best of Show went to Olimpia Cantillano, who was featured in the April 28 “Gazette.”
The juror for this year’s competition was Shannon Rae Lindsey, an accomplished practicing interdisciplinary artist. Lindsey is also the art gallery director and a lecturer at the School of Visual Arts and Design at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.
Vlad Serdiuk won an Artist Affiliate Membership to Magnolia Art Xchange (awarded to first place winners in each division and Best of Show), annual memberships to the Appleton Museum of Art and Marion Cultural Alliance (all winners), and a registration fee waiver for the 2023-24 season of First Friday Art Walk (all winners). You can see more of his photography in the recently opened “Four Corners” exhibition at the News Journal Center at Daytona State College.
Laura, who works at home in finance, sometimes collaborates with her husband to capture events such as parties and weddings. Together, they enjoy reading, watching documentaries and kayaking.
To see more of Vlad Serdiuk’s photographs, visit instagram.com/vladymyrserdiuk. For more information about the City of Ocala Cultural Arts Division Office, call (352) 629-8447 or visit ocalafl.org/culturalarts.