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My grandmother, Helen Ciesla Covensky, and I share an art exhibition at the The Kosciuszko Foundation in Washington D.C. Our works will be on display until November 30, 2023*** (extended date)

Our biographies are included below. 

Helen Covensky (1925 – 2007) was born in Kielce, Poland, as Hanka Ciesla. She suffered early tragedy and hardship amid the Holocaust and experiencing the losses of her mother, father, and younger sister in concentration camps. Following the end of the war, after many years in labor camp, Hanka was reunited with her younger brother, David, who had also been liberated. Their unexpected reunion was covered by an American journalist who became her first husband. Together with her husband and young daughter, Aviva, Hanka soon settled in Detroit, Michigan. It was there that she began to go by the name Helen and welcomed a son, Jonathan.


In the 1950s and 60s, Helen attended courses at Wayne State University including focuses on art history and philosophy and it was there that she met her second husband, Milton Covensky, a professor. 1967 brought the outbreak of the Six-Day War in the Middle East and traumatic memories and losses of her past weighed heavily again. Initially utilizing art and painting as an outlet, Helen truly began her journey and career as an abstract artist – and she would often sign her creations with both Hanka Ciesla and Helen Covensky to represent the continuity of life.


In 1981, she produced a one-woman show at the Detroit Institute of Arts and in 1983, she and her husband relocated to Bethesda, MD where she continued to paint, study, and explore in her in-home studio space. Vivid colors, energy and motion in watercolors and oil paints represent her extensive collection of works overtime and each representing a unique depiction of passion, resilience, strength, and beauty. Helen Ciesla Covensky’s works are shown in many exhibitions around the world and enjoyed in public and private forums today.

"In my lifetime, I have witnessed a world of extreme change which saw great destruction and rebirth: world war, a terrible holocaust, the displacement of millions of people, and the loss of my loved ones are part of this experience. The United States gave me the opportunity to search for growth, equality, and self-awareness…."

“My paintings are always in process. They are "action paintings". In them, I sense and feel the flow of life as an inner experience and vision. Just as nature and life cannot be frozen, my paintings affirm the vital energy, dynamism, magic, and mystery of my world. I seek to capture a sense of constant motion and restlessness through the use of, color, composition, and texture… Painting for me is an absolute necessity, expressing personal needs, a constant struggle, and a never-ending search to portray the reaffirmation of life.”

One Group Exhibitions:



Lim Gallery

Tel Aviv, Israel


An Exhibition of Paintings

North Campus Commons Gallery

University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, Michigan


New Paintings

London Arts Gallery

Detroit, Michigan



Recent Paintings and Works on Paper

London Arts Gallery

Detroit, Michigan



New Paintings

London Arts Gallery

Detroit, Michigan

Selected Group Exhibitions:



58th Exhibition for Michigan Artists

The Detroit Institute of Arts

Detroit, Michigan (Brochure)



Women Artists: An Exhibition of Women Artists

Whose Works Are in Public or Corporate Collections

Pyramid Gallery

Ann Arbor, Michigan



Michigan Collects Michigan Art

Pontiac Creative Arts Center

Pontiac, Michigan (Catalogue)



At Cranbrook: The Smith, Hinchman, & Grylls Collection

Cranbrook Academy of Art

Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (Brochure)



Artists from Michigan: Painting, Sculpture, Works on Paper, Performance

International Institute Exhibition

The Edsel and Eleanor Ford House

Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan


Charfoos, Christensen, Gilbert & Archer; Detroit, MI City National Bank

The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI

Ford Foundation, New York, NY

Lansing General Hospital, Detroit, MI

Smith, Hinchman & Grylls Associates, Inc.; Detroit, MI

Tel Aviv Museum, Tel Aviv, Israel

20th Century Fox, Los Angeles, CA

Wayne State University, Detroit, MI

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