Statement for 'The Real Cinderella Dress and Other Recent Work'

The Real Cinderella Dress and Other Recent Work presents a body of work representing my larger interest in the tangible/intangible qualities of birds and references an installation from 2011, Evening Gowns for the Midwestern Woman.  Birds have interested me since I was a kid – their shapes, movements, feathers, behaviors,  adaptations and delicate bones all fascinate me. 

To explore birds' intangible qualities, I've been using wire as a 3-dimensional line to 'draw' their outlines, then displaying the pieces in a way that the wire drawing casts several more 'shadow lines' on the wall.  These pieces capture the birds in a clear, quiet way, describing their shapes, while remaining vulnerable to air movement and directional light.  

I've also been exploring the idea of flying and the freedom and maneuverability that affords birds with pieces like 'Cloud with Birds' and 'Bird Rain'.  These specific pieces couple that freedom with a connection or a tether – not quite all the way free, dependent on their environments.

I make most of my work with re-purposed materials.  This body of work is no exception.  I've worked in this way long before it was cool.  (I attribute this to the farm life, as well, because we always saved things in case we needed to patch something in the future.)  It has, however, always been important to me that the previous life of the material isn't necessarily evident – craftsmanship and design take priority in the pieces.   The materials transcend their previous lives.

Working with re-purposed materials like this requires a lot of problem solving – my favorite part of making art.  Practicing problem solving in art pieces gets the mind working, thinking and open to solutions not before considered. If I can think about an 'art problem' in new ways, then I not only build skills for the art studio, but I train my mind to think in a problem solving mode. 'Practicing problem solving' is the key phrase for my art making.

Valerie Mann putting finishing touches on installation

Valerie Mann putting finishing touches on installation