Photo: Shalene Valenzuela, detail of Follow the Pattern: Free Samples, cone 6 porcelain, 2012. collection of the artist, copyright the artist.

Shalene Valenzuela: Following Patterns

September 7 2012 - December 23 2012

Missoula artist Shalene Valenzuela has created a new body of ceramic sculptures and MAM is excited to feature it in this exhibition. The new works address the idea of “patterns” both formally and conceptually. Her ceramic sculptures often reflect a variety of issues that are executed with a humorous and sometimes ironic tone. On a content level, Valenzuela never shies away from exploring issues focusing on women including self-esteem, stereotypes, expectations, idealizations, and perceptions.

Valenzuela incorporates everyday objects through the process of slip casting while the surfaces are illuminated with imagery that is hand-painted and/or screen printed. Inevitably the artist’s language comes through. The artist consistently presents work with an obvious relationship between the object or form and the illustration. For example, dress pattern paper and the image of the woman wearing the dress reinforces the playful yet at times serious layered attitude of the artist.

Valenzuela states, “The physical presence of the pattern implies that the action taking place in the narratives relates to a pattern in some way – a habit, a rut in life, something we do on a daily basis and do not question.”

Valenzuela goes on to explain, “My narratives explore topics ranging from fairytales, urban mythologies, consumer culture, societal expectations, etiquette, and coming-of-age issues. Stylistically, much of my imagery is pulled from somewhat ‘dated’ sources that I find represent an idealized time in society and advertising. Beneath the shiny veneer of these relics hides a complex and sometimes contradicting the truth of what things seem to appear as upon first glance."