Valerie Hammond’s Wax Sculptures & Laser Cut Paintings
“I am always interested in people who believe in illusions since as artists, we are illusionists,” says Valerie Hammond, a visual artist who creates flower sculptures made from wax and laser-cut outlines of women. Hammond’s work seems like a mishmash of styles and subjects, but at the core of everything, there is an element of life and death, and the presence of immortality.
Every material used is imbued into each piece, as if a painstaking amount of time has been taken to select the perfect texture, look, and feel. And it’s not just the pieces themselves that convey artistic talent. Through the laser cut images and wax sculptures, the shadows that are cast on the wall also show well thought-out detail. For example, a piece entitled “Girl” projects an Emily Dickinson poem against the wall, adding a three-dimensional aspect to the work.
Hammond grew up in rural California, where she drew inspiration from places and objects that she considered to be full of mystery. “Some of my most significant visual influences were images I saw in church,” she says, going on to add that it wasn’t the religious elements of the church that she found inspiration in, but the real-life visual cues that were present.
This stems from a fascination with shrines and devotional objects that show love and respect for the natural world and the people in it. “These objects inspire the type of physical intimacy that holds my artistic practice,” she says.
But it is not just the church that Hammond draws influence from. She is also a keen fan of Asian art – elements of which can be spotted in her collection of pieces. A regular visitor to the Asia Society in New York City, she learns much from this decorative and informed style of art.
When it comes to process, Hammond isn’t the kind of artist to labor over one piece at a time. In fact, she works on numerous pieces at once. “I like to be surrounded by my work while the pieces speak to each other and inform each other.” She adds that her work tends to evolve and develop in front of her very eyes, and unfolds from one piece to the next in no fixed order.
Layering plays a huge part in Hammond’s work, whether it is the physical aspect of combining materials, or the idea of several literal and emotional qualities conveyed through the piece. To begin the process, she collects organic materials like ferns, and then transforms them through drawn images and printmaking techniques. She’ll create images that pair together the natural world and the human form, before the image itself is submerged in a tray of heated wax.
This act “metaphorically removes the image from the world of the living but paradoxically preserves it indefinitely.” It’s on this life-death crux where Hammonds work thrives. But, despite, the figures and subjects featured in her work being “real” things with real meanings, Hammond claims it is important to her that “the work is not sentimental, but experimental.”
Enjoy the track “Clearwater Bay” by Four Legs on Trilogy Tapes while viewing the gallery below.
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