Everybody has a mother, and my mother is the most beautiful person in the world to me. From her, I learned about love, kindness, sadness, and right and wrong.
Elena Diadenko-Hunter was born in Poltava, Ukraine on April 22, 1969. She first took an interest in art at 2 years of age, and at the age of 11, she was accepted into the Poltava Children’s Fine Arts School, a specialized, selective art school in the former Soviet Union. At 15, she was accepted into the Myrgorod Ceramics College, a selective, specialized art school which combined high school and 2 years of junior college. The school’s main curricula were drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, and composition. She graduated with honors in 1988, 1 of 3 students to do so out of 30 graduates that year.
In 1989, Elena Diadenko-Hunter applied at, and was accepted into, the prestigious Lviv State Institute of Fine and Applied Art. There were only 3 art institutes of this caliber in the former Soviet Union, the others being in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Only 8% of applicants were accepted, and only after passing 5 rigorous exams: painting, drawing, composition, world history, and Ukrainian language essay. She achieved the maximum score possible, 13 out of 13.
At Lviv State, Elena Diadenko-Hunter mastered both the realistic and stylized approaches to painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, and composition. The former Soviet Union’s art system demanded equal time for each of these subjects; as a result, she became a very well-rounded artist. However, her passion was painting.
By the time she was 21, her paintings were displayed in galleries in Moscow, Warsaw, Toronto, Detroit, Cincinnati, Madison, WI, Poltava, and Lviv.
Elena Diadenko-Hunter completed her B.F.A. at Lviv State in 1992, and shortly thereafter immigrated to the United States, settling in Chicago. That year, her work was accepted into the Carol Jones Gallery and the Art Windows gallery, both in the River North area of Chicago. In 1995, she was accepted into Columbia College’s M.A.T. Interdisciplinary Art program. She was also granted a $6,800 Dwight Follett full-year fellowship for her art portfolio, an $500 Albert Weisman Memorial Scholarship Award because of nine of her sculptures, a $200 Columbia College Presidential Award for one of her paintings, and a $500 First Place award at the Columbia College “Women in the Arts” faculty and student competition for one of her paintings.
Elena Diadenko-Hunter graduated Columbia College in 1997 with an M.A.T. and started to work at Clemente High School in Chicago as a fine arts teacher. While she continued to display her art at small galleries throughout Chicago, the main emphasis of her life at that time was teaching art. Also, she enrolled in Columbia College’s M.A. program in 1998, graduating in 1999. In 2004, she won the prestigious Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching, awarded to only 10 Chicagoland teachers a year. As a result, she was given one free semester enrollment at Northwestern University, where she had Independent Art Study with Ed Paschke.
In August 2006, Elena was one of the ten winners of the Chelsea Global Showcase at Amsterdam Whitney Gallery in Chelsea, NY. In December 2006, she participated in an international group show at Monkdogz Urban Art Gallery in Chelsea, NY.
In June 2007, she left Clemente to become a full time artist.