Last week, the SUNY New Paltz Student Association hosted renowned sculptor and printmaker Valerie Hammond as part of the Visiting Artist Lecture Series.
Hammond delighted students and faculty alike while sharing stories of her projects, techniques and evolution as an artist.
Hammond is a master of multiple mediums. She got her start painting, but later dove into printmaking and sculpture. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley and her work is featured in prominent museums and exhibitions, like the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library. She was heavily influenced by legendary artist Louise Bourgeois, known for her incredible experiments in sculpture. With her art, one of her goals is to “disrupt the waking minds penchant for order.”
Hammond’s work feel dream-like and otherworldly. She keeps dream journals and often draws inspiration from them which comes to her while she’s unconscious. Her primary focus is on printmaking, where she creates stunning and occasionally gigantic works out of the body and natural flora and fauna. Her works on the whole are “informed by both death and life,” and they “work to straddle the undefinable.”
The skill of observation is also important to Hammond’s artistry.
“Seeing new things and having experiences, helps to inform your work,” she said. “What is closest to you informs what you’re doing.” This feeds into the theme of identity: each person we meet has multiple identities or roles. Hammond’s roles include (but are not limited to) being a wife, mother, teacher and an artist. These roles guide her when she’s creating art.
Hammond’s works also include great experiments in sculpture. She creates beautiful, dainty carvings of flowers and body parts, drawing her primary inspirations from nature and the body. The most surprising to learn about were her experimentations in wax.
“Wax is super visceral, corny. I love that it’s skin-like, it makes so much sense for works about the body,” she said.
A signature piece of hers are wax hands. She also creates massive drawings with wax, again focusing on nature and the body.
Experimenting with the printmaking medium, Hammond also creates giant colographs and lithographs. She recently began the endeavor of printing on laser-cut metal and repurposed pieces of clothing. Her works are delicate and intricate, yet somehow feel carefree.
A printmaking heavyweight, Hammond currently teaches courses at NYU and Columbia, and was a professor at Yale for some time. She offered reassuring advice and anecdotes for other artists. The Visiting Artist Lecture Series rarely disappoints. She was a warm and caring speaker who was thrilled to share about her experiences.
Hammond encouraged students to “take opportunities whenever they’re given,” and brought up the heartwarming “spirit of collaboration that exists in a printshop.” It was an uplifting talk by a talented and renowned artist.
Valerie’s work can be found at www.valeriehammond.com and on instagram @valeriehammondstudio. For more information, contact the Student Art Alliance at email@example.com.