A.I.R Reflections: Amanda Valdez

Amanda Valdez is an artist living and working in Brooklyn NY. Her work uses a variety of mixed media materials that range from paint to thread and cyanotype. While Amanda was here, I came to know her as a kind, open, and opinionated individual. Amanda was a very social, carefree and open resident- devoted to helping others as well as bettering herself. She would set a daily schedule for producing her work and researching other artists, on top of which she would run daily. Her work has been shown across the United States and can currently be found at Denny Gallery in New York. More information about her and her work can be found athttp://amandavaldez.com/home.html

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What work did you produce at Byrdcliffe? Were they a continuation of previous works?

At Byrdcliffe I had two lines of inquiry that I worked on side by side. One was a continuation of my painting practice, in which I combine fabric, embroidery, paint, and canvas with my abstract images. I created three new finished pieces during my time in the woods. Since all my work starts from drawing I completed six fully developed mix-media works on paper and a small treasure trove of sketches. The second course of work was a complete experimentation in making cyanotype drawings. Cyanotype is an analog photographic printing process which is simply making a contact print. I experimented with a wide variety of drawing materials to create different responses with the paper I had chemically coated. I found a material and method that I felt pushed beyond the basic introduction of the process and allowed for a wider range of depth. I created a whole installation of cyanotype drawings that is now the basis for a large installation I will produce for a solo show in Seattle this fall at Prole Drift.

Although stretched on canvas, your works utilize mixed media- cyanotype, thread, paint, and gouache to name a few. How do you introduce and manipulate the properties of your matierials?

Something I often say about my practice is that I think through my hands. Working with a new material is at first a hunch of its potential and then an exploratory period. I ask many questions and those questions lead the investigation. If the material yields an interesting result then I have to step back for some cognitive judgements and evaluations. I chew over the implications or the experience of viewing that new material. Working with new materials can be awkward, you think at first you’ll be instant friends the moment you have what seems like a total insight to bring this material to the picture plane, then comes the practical application and “getting to know you phase.” I have to negotiate and dance with this new thing. Then a groove is discovered that allows for a forward momentum of experimentation and development.

How is distance addressed in your work? (the relationship to the body)

For many years now I have worked with flat space. I wanted to avoid illusionistic space and have the shapes and their relationship to the frame create the image. In making my surface flat, I think it sucks up the viewer to the surface. Some of my favorite comments by people are about wanting to get close or lick the surface. That is something I thought about for a long time, how could I make a painting that made you want to lick the surface. So it was a special moment the first time someone vocalized that desire to me. I think in having the shapes sit on the surface and push out it  makes something in your body push forward, some space inside wants to push out of the frame of your skin, like the shapes pushing out and resisting the frame of the painting.

Have you developed a routine for creating works?

For the work I am currently making I do have a routine. As I touched upon, my work all starts from drawing. I feel that I am dislodging these shapes from my body and my experiences. The shapes and relationships that develop between shapes in a drawing will hold a charge, they will be awkward or feel assertive in themselves or hold something so intangible that I have to have more and I will then know that I have to see these shapes made into a painting.  I then have to go through the process of decided how to make the painting, how to engineer and construct the shapes. Will sewing be involved? Will their be embroidery? Is there paint, if so where, and how? Then I fall into it. I engage with my imperfection and set about making a painting. It’s always a total surprise how they will exist for me.

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