A Portrait of Risk

To understand this artist, you need only look at her work. You may not comprehend all that the pieces and artist have to offer, but appreciating their beauty does not require complete understanding. Textured and layered, mysterious and revealing. There is a deep earthy voice in Valerie’s work and person. They speak boldly and request quiet thoughtfulness.

Valerie studied printmaking at The New School, NY and received her Master of Arts/Sculpture from Goddard College, VT in 1977. Maynard embraces all aspects of the art world, working as a fine artist, an educator, a curator, a writer, and a set designer. She has exhibited her artwork all over the United States and in Sweden. Throughout her career, Maynard has received many awards including residencies in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and New York, as well as a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant in Printmaking. She has taught extensively in both classroom and workshop settings and at a variety of universities and community institutions. Maynard also specializes in the restoration and preservation of traditional art forms of people of color.

When asked what she finds risky about her work, or being an artist in general, Valerie says, “The risk is every breath.” This could sound evasive coming from someone else, but from Valerie, it is stating the obvious. She admitted that showing her work does not come easy, but exhibiting is not what drives her to create. The sense of spirit that moves through Valerie’s work is ever present when speaking of what motivates her and inspires her choice of mediums, and she has mastered quite a few: painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, photography and the combination thereof. She does not tie herself to any medium, or a singular inspiration. Asking her to reveal such a thing is likened to asking a leaf why it is attached to a tree. “It just is. I submit that one does not know, and should not know, what one is actually doing.” Valerie describes her work, as being a sum of all parts – her entire life and all she has ever done is present in each piece.

That said; Valerie seems reluctant to define the pieces as possessions. “How you [the viewer] come to see the work is a unique experience and so you complete the circle.” Suggesting that the artist is only partly responsible for how the work is perceived.

Like her work, Valerie connects to the realities and beauty found in nature, few things having any defined beginning or end, and a great many things are not completely understood. Valerie is not known as a photographer, but says she takes thousands of pictures – shooting whenever she can. “What interests me with photographs is mostly nature. I get a kick out of it.”

Valerie says that she did not choose to be an Artist; rejecting the notion that one can decide to be an artist. “Being an artist is a life lived. I see snow for the first time every time … like wow, look at that!” Artists notice things.