Valerie Wilson is a visual artist and educator based in San Francisco. We first met when she was working with students at Alchemia, an arts program for adults with developmental disabilities. In our dialogue, she comments on the conscious and subconscious nature of Reflection, and the unique uses of these Reflections that each person chooses as their Response. Valerie chooses to reflect through art as a “healing interpretation,” of her world, as she describes with her print, The Royal Rooster, dealing with mixed emotions of a past relationship. Check out Valerie’s ideas in more detail below and snapshots from her printmaking process!
Either consciously or subconsciously, people are processing their surroundings, their past, present, & future every single moment of the day. What one does with their reflection(s) is completely subjective, but unanimously response is a direct reaction to reflection (and visa versa).
– Valerie Wilson
Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?
VW: I’m originally from Sebastopol, a small town in Northern California infused with wine, liberals, and art. In 2005 I moved to San Francisco, and have set up a semi-permanent fort there.
What does Reflection and Response mean to you?
VW: Either consciously or subconsciously, people are processing their surroundings, their past, present, & future every single moment of the day. What one does with their reflection(s) is completely subjective, but unanimously response is a direct reaction to reflection (and visa versa). Reflection and response are symbiotic with each other, for every action there is a reaction, creation is what happens when these two work together (which is all the time).
How does The Royal Rooster fit in with that definition?
VW: I’m incredibly detailed oriented and love symmetry, but besides that, my artistic process is very lackadaisical erring on the side of intuitiveness. My most complex pieces have surfaced during equally complex life events. Without a doubt I’d say that my work is a creative and healing interpretation of my world & existential well-being. My art is interchangeable between Reflection and Response, and is definitely fueled by both concepts. The Royal Rooster is the romanticization of a past partner. In the spring of 2011 I started carving and designing this bird after a breakup with someone I truly respected but equally despised. He (the rooster) is so tall and proud and beautiful while simultaneously reiterating his haughtiness and unattainability. Of course, I come to realize this only retrospectively, but see this piece as an obvious phoenix rising from the ashes of a failed (but cherished) relationship.
What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?
VW: I’ve taken on this insane embroidery project, I’m six months into it already & still can’t clearly pinpoint an endpoint. I printed the Royal Rooster onto some muslin fabric back in September 2013, and have been embroidering all of the negative space. It has been a fun process, I had no idea I’d get so anal retentive about the infinite different shades of embroidery thread.
Who or what inspires you?
VW: Whenever I’m in a funk I always go to the Asian Art Museum, I love all the ancient relief sculptures and Buddhist mandalas. While I’m working on a project I like to listen to books on tape or passively watch a TV series. Humor keeps me running, especially dry British humor, so I watch a lot of Peep Show, Keeping Up Appearances, & Absolutely Fabulous while I work.
Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?
VW: For some, art just sort of happens, I didn’t choose to become an artist, it just happened. Obviously, no complaints, I lead a very magical and rich life, but sometimes I’m left completely dumbfounded trying to figure out how and why I create and where it all comes from.
Shout out to…?
VW: My mom, she thinks I’m the best!
Check out more of Valerie’s work on her website: http://valeriums.com/
Reflection and Response.