T & B went behind the scenes with bay area artist, Anna Valdez in her Oakland studio. If you aren’t familiar with the artist already, Here’s a little background to her work.
As a visual artist with an academic background in anthropology, and video, she views artists as cultural producers. In her recent work, Anna attempts to combine these practices into a specific investigation that cultivates not only personal identity, but also cultural meaning. Currently, Anna is working on various narratives that explore her own traditions and history through a visual format. This process has led her to rely on photographs, stories, family recipes, horticulture, and the tradition of crafting as something concrete in order to construct an autobiography. She considers this examination to be a rite of passage into a globalized society while simultaneously finding a niche within.
Recently, many of her pieces have been still lifes. These arrangements have been composed from various household items such as her clothes, quilts, scarves, blankets, houseplants, drawings, paintings, books, records, and vessels. These items exist as a part of her domestic environment, and Anna has put them into paintings to understand the domestic sphere as emblematic of both personal and collective experience.
Thanks for sitting down with us today. For starters, we love your work and would love to hear more about you. What’s your average day like?
I don’t think painting is just about applying paint to a surface; it also includes research, analysis and visual digestion. I do spend at least a few hours a day reading about whatever topic currently captures my interest, looking at images online or in books, reading articles, drawing from my immediate space or talking out ideas with other artists in my community. I tend to be most physically active in the studio at night.
My current work is the result of what excites me in painting. I am interested in the exploration of lineage in art history. Much of my work references historical and contemporary painters. I use the tradition of still life painting in order to construct stories that convey my experiences into a visual story that reflects culture.
Where do you find inspiration? Where do you see your work going next?
I think of the studio as an environment that allows me to explore various concepts. At the moment I have a few directions in which I would like to take my work. I’ve found that working at a fast pace helps accelerate discovery and things just happen. I want to continue working in a state of urgency in order to work out as many ideas as possible. This practice has helped me realize what I find interesting in painting and in my own work. Lately I’ve been painting at a larger scale. I feel that with the increased size the paintings have more of a physical presence. I like that the work acts as an extension of space within a room.