Category Archives: Artist Statements

EKPHRASIS – at Bentley’s House of Coffee and Tea

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SHOWING July 17 – AUGUST 14  At 1730 East Speedway Blvd. Tucson M – SA 7AM to 4PM SU 8AM to 4PM 520.795.0338
The primary iconography for this show, single-line figures, comes from Autopoiesis, a series I began in 1997. Elements in an autopoietic system are producer and product simultaneously. To live in an autonomous way, living systems need to obtain resources from their environment. Forms in art, because of their symbolic nature, are dependent upon a relationship with viewers, who are themselves producers and consumers. Ekphrasis, the use of one work of art to tell the story of another, is also an example of autopoiesis. In this exhibit, the figures represent spirits and living beings.

I began painting Divine Comedy a few years ago. In the process of finishing it for this show, the painting began to look religious to me as I built up the fore- and background colors and the black figures primarily with triangulation. I thought, I’m an atheist, what am I making here? Dante’s epic poem the Divine Comedy came to mind; I recalled how much I enjoyed reading parts of Mandelbaum’s Commedia and Pinsky’s translation of the Inferno. Dante’s form and subject matter, especially the humor and humanity with which he depicts both sinners and saints, became the guiding principle for the show.

I painted Francesca and Paolo, Dante’s adulterers, swaying in a sea of flames. Francesca and Paolo’s story is a precursor to the gothic novel, which combines elements of horror, supernatural evil, and romance. Gothic architecture offers another context in which to consider these works, with its castles and cathedrals, especially the statues and decorative schemes that address peoples’ fascination with, and fear of, supernatural power. My use of a pitchfork symbol is inspired by Grant Wood’s American Gothic.

Sympathy for the Devil (also the title of a Rolling Stones’ song) recalls for me the most stirring moment in Mandelbaum’s translation, his depiction of a devil weeping as he is forced to gnash an infinity of sinners. It hadn’t occurred to me that a devil might be anything but malevolent.

I love terza rima, a rhyme scheme invented by Dante. Composed of tercets, each stanza’s first and third lines rhyme, while the center line ignites the rhyme of the following tercet. My triptych Terza Rima represents types of couples (in the past, I have titled similar triptychs American Marriage, No On Prop 8 and Date Night). By placing the heteros in the middle, I’m attempting a metonym for Dante’s rhyme scheme.

As one element of an autopoietic system, I continue to reference and reuse my own art. The intaglio print My Pager is in My Other Pants mimics an early sketch I made for Autopoiesis. I etched the plate Kandinsky Coffin in 2010, using non-toxic methods. Working the print in encaustic with the Divine Comedy on my mind, it occurred to me that a coffin, paradise, and purgatory are three inventions created to accommodate the same event — the cessation of life.

To view these and other works online go to valyntinagrenier.com.

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FAMILY Encaustic | Watercolor | Fiber Art | Intaglio Prints

This collection of artwork explores the notion of family.  The portraits of women were inspired by a photograph of my maternal great-grandmother and are named with the first or middle names of my grandmothers, HARRIET . The fiber art pieces represent the characters of my mother, father, and sister. I include myself as well in KIMBERLY’S VALLEY .

The encaustic works use minimalist figures to represent forms of life.  The color encaustics share a family of marks that explore transparency, counting, and the arc of a celestial body, TRANSLUCENT MOON . The series titled NO ON PROP 8  was made in response to the anti-gay marriage proposition passed in California. DATE NIGHT brings up our desire to couple, as well as our need to continue a romance after marriage and family. Methods are married and images and ideas couple across media.

There is a correlation between the scape-ness of the abstracts that are made with paint, UPRISING  and the scapes that come together by stitching together strips of fabric. Actual stitching in fiber art becomes metaphoric in the abstract painting, STITCHED IN TIME . I began working with the slash, or line, after using blades of grass as relief objects in the intaglio prints SHIPWRECKED CRYSTALS and NO ON SB 1070 . With INCEPTION , I use a single line to indicate the beginning of life.

Methods and materials from one medium give birth to a new combination of figures in another. The pieces entitled MY PAGER’S IN MY OTHER PANTS are children of a sketch I began working with in 1998 . In turn, those figures are parents of the series, AUTOPOIIESIS . They have found their way into NO ON PROP 8,  DATE NIGHT, and more subtly but significantly into BREE’S PARTY and CHUCK’S OUTLOOK . I work serially because it offers possibilities for making family.

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