4 Questions With Grace Korandovich

If you’ve ever taken a selfie at Easton Town Center, chances are you’ve posed with one of Grace Korandovich’s luscious flower valances. The artist finds it hard to contain her creativity, her bold and beautiful art displays and installations scale walls and fill rooms for clients including the Diamond Cellar, The Athletic Club of Columbus, Flowers & Bread, Stile Salon and other area small businesses.

“A lot of what I create is inspired by the environment, organic shapes, movement and the theory of flow. Sometimes, I’m just connecting with the material. I am an airy light feel of an artist. I like to play with texture a lot,” says Korandovich, who owns Grace K Designs.

Collaborating with fashion designer Tracy Powell, Korandovich will be displaying what she describes as a “Mad Max themed design” at this year’s Wonderball. Below she tells us about her journey from lacrosse to art, and how she is flourishing by thinking outside of canvas.

Grace Korandovich

Grace Korandovich
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Q: You started college as an athlete, but also had an interest in art. How did you reconcile both interests?

Korandovich: I’ve always been the nontraditional athlete and also the nontraditional artists. Both have balanced me my whole life. I went to San Diego State University to play lacrosse. I took that route versus going to art school, and it became more of a challenge than I realized. I double majored business and art, and I had to take a step back from my art and make it a minor. It was just too hard to do on the road. Then I realized that there was a lack of balance in my lacrosse playing.

I wasn’t performing well and it was because I didn’t have my regular art routine in my life. I took some time off between undergrad and graduate school, just trying to figure out my life. I realized I really missed my art and that’s when I decided I needed to make that my focus again. It was a natural fit to go to the Columbus College of Art and Design for grad school. I took a risk and it was the only place I applied.

Q: Your work includes traditional canvas art, but even some of that comes off of the canvas. Have you always been so intentionally big and bold with your work?

Korandovich: I went from big to small and small is not really small for me. Most of my work is made up of multiples. Each object could stand alone, but I like to add multiples together to create a larger piece. In grad school I had a mentor who challenged me to go small, because I had to learn that not everyone has a two-story wall in their home that they could put artwork on that spans 30 feet wide! I went through a process to try and scale down my work. The smallest I’ve gotten to is 12×12. I tend to create large pieces and tailor back.

Q: During the pandemic, it was great to experience your artwork at Easton at a time where most couldn’t experience art in museums and galleries. Can you talk about bringing your art to these nontraditional spaces?

Korandovich: It’s about a connection and making someone feel something. My goal is to give people joy, passion, something just to stop them in their tracks. A little something to make their day better.

Q: Your Wonderball installation is a collaboration with fashion designer Tracy Powell. What’s it like collaborating with another artist from a different discipline?

Korandovich: Most artists are very open to collaborations. The plus for me is learning another way of thinking or another method of doing and seeing things through other people’s eyes. I think it can teach you a lot. I think collaboration can only make you stronger as an artist.

Donna Marbury is a journalist, communications consultant and owner of Donna Marie Consulting. The Columbus native was recently named as a board member of Cbus Libraries, and stays busy with her 7-year-old son and editorial assistant, Jeremiah.

5 Questions With Fashion Designer Tracy Powell

Tracy Powell once had a thriving career in real estate for 15 years, but her childhood interest in fashion remained alive in her heart.

Everyone thought I was going crazy because I was very good at what I did. I made a lot of money selling real estate, but the call to create fashion and art was so great,” says Powell, who stopped selling houses and decided to study fashion at The Columbus College of Art & Design as a nontraditional student in her 40s.

Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Powell now leads The House of IsA and her avant garde designs are inspired by comic books, movies and hip hop. She uses her inspiration to produce beautiful designs that display a high fashion hand with a juxtaposition of hard and soft. Powell is also driven by her faith and the strength of the women she’s known throughout her life. Powell will be exhibiting works for the second time at Wonderball, inspired by the Future theme. Below, she discusses her inspirations rooted in her family and the past, present and future of her own fashion legacy.

Look Created by The House of IsA

Look Created by The House of IsA
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Q: How did you become interested in fashion?

Tracy Powell: My interest in fashion came from my mother. Actually, fashion was the direction she wanted to go, but she ended up being a licensed cosmetologist. I was going to the hair shows and fashion shows. I was actually a tomboy, so I drove her crazy for a long time. I’m the only girl and I have all brothers. As I was growing up, I started dressing my friends in middle school, changing their hair and their clothes. I loved it.

Q: After several years in real estate, how do you define success now as a designer?

Powell: When I was selling real estate, it was built based on numbers and sales and who’s hot and popping. My life right now is about legacy. It’s about doing things that are going to leave a mark or a trail for someone else to come behind me. Success for me would be someone else in my family coming up behind me and taking that over and making it grow just like a Louis Vuitton or Gucci.

Q: What are your thoughts about the scene in Columbus?

Powell: We are the third largest fashion industry in the nation. We also have a lot of independent designers here in Columbus, but the focus is more on the corporate end. Those companies are great, but I was already an entrepreneur before fashion so I knew that I would continue that same trajectory.

When I was a CCAD student, knowing that I’m not going to go the corporate route, I would say to myself, ‘Where am I going to go to work with the amount of equipment that we have here at this studio? At the time the Columbus Fashion Alliance was an idea [Yohannan Terrell] was working on for the Idea Foundry. When I graduated, boom, he did it. And it’s such a wonderful space. It’s such a great place for people who want to create. I think it’s fantastic what could be done in that space and the opportunities that are coming through there now.

Q: Checking out your Instagram (@thehouseofisa) your work is gorgeous. Can you tell me about some of the pieces from previous shows that you are proud of?

Powell: Last year, I was featured at the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio’s Distinctly Paramount: Fashion & Costume from the Paramount Pictures Archives in Lancaster, in conjunction with Paramount Studios. Randall Thropp, archivist for Paramount Studios, brings costumes from several Paramount movies, from the 1920s to now.

We had a show and my collection was called Blameless. It was about spirituality and how Jesus was blameless. The name Isa means Jesus in Arabic. The name of my brand is The House of IsA, which is essentially the house of the Lord. Blameless was something I was thinking of with all of the things that were going on in the world with racism, George Floyd’s death and how Jesus was without sin, but still persecuted. It was deep, but that was the space I was in at that moment.

Everything was white and I always put a little edge with my design. Some of the girls had gold grills. I’m from that hip hop, 80s culture. I wanted to put the bamboo earrings, big jewelry, the chunky jewelry that goes back to my urban roots.

Q: Can you give us a preview of what we will see from you at Wonderball?

Powell: I’ll say the theme is about the future. My work is going to be about the progression of women, what we are to this world and how many hats we can juggle. We’re all things, whether you are a homemaker or whether you are out in the world fighting that battle every day or you’re a mom or grandma, we encompass all things. It’s about women’s empowerment.

Fashion designers are never really seen as artists, but I’m actually an artist, too. That’s another one of my passions, for my designs to be displayed like a Van Gogh or a Gauguin.

Donna Marbury is a journalist, communications consultant and owner of Donna Marie Consulting. The Columbus native was recently named as a board member of Cbus Libraries, and stays busy with her 7-year-old son and editorial assistant, Jeremiah.