This is the first in a series of posts highlighting artists from Dysfunctional, curated by Roberto Lugo, on display at Pewabic through May 14, 2017.
Utilizing playfulness and wit, Shalene Valenzuela’s work salutes an idealized era through hand-painted retro images on ceramic sculptures of common household items and a shiny veneer finish.
In Potholder: Red Hot #2 and Potholder: Red Hot #3, Valenzuela’s porcelain potholder sculptures feature likenesses of women in lighter ads, making an ironic play on words and materials. Exploring issues often connected with women resonates with Valenzuela.
Exploring women’s issues in her art is important to Valenzuela, who has said that this study resonates with how her perceptions of herself are changing along with how other women are perceiving themselves and how society views them.
“I see my exploration of these issues addressing self perception and expectations reaching beyond just purely feminist concerns. It’s a question of how we all strive to attain impossible ideals based on what others define we should be,” Valenzuela shares.
Valenzuela’s response to anyone wondering why she uses clay, rather than the actual objects — such as a blender in the case of Blending in: Some Cookies — is to create a “trompe l’oeil with a twist,” displaying something that is not as it seems.
The Santa Barbara, Calif., native received her Bachelor of Arts in art practice at the University of California at Berkeley and a Master of Fine Arts in ceramics from the California College of Arts and Crafts. In 2007, she relocated to Missoula, Mon., to participate in a long-term residency at The Clay Studio of Missoula, where she serves as Executive Director.
Valenzuela has taught at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, Mon.; University of Montana; Oregon College of Art and Craft in Portland, Ore.; The Clay Studio of Missoula; Missoula Art Museum; Richmond Art Center in Richmond, Calif.; ASUC Studios at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif. and California College of the Arts Extended Education in Oakland, Calif. She has also participated in summer artist residencies at the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in Helena, Mon.,(2006) and Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts in Newcastle, Maine (2004, 2011).