Mysterious images by Valerie Hammond will leave an impression

valeriehammondprints00If we were to describe the prints, paintings, sculptures, or photographs by Valerie Hammond, you might dismiss it as the kind of imagery that you’ve seen before in half a dozen galleries. The feminine sensitivity in her repeated depiction of hands combined with botanical elements to describe our relationship with the world of nature might get abused as nostalgia in the wrong hands. Hammond’s crafty handling of multiple mediums instead turns the subjects into mysterious relics that grabbed our attention after the first glance. Her website (which is really well designed, btw) shows how her exploring of the same imagery from different angles has yielded a range of subtle differences that make each work intriguing. She recently showed in our own backyard at the Walker Contemporary Gallery in Boston and we certainly wish we’d gotten to check these out in person. In her own words, Hammond tells about what inspires her –

Growing up in a small agricultural community in California, my exposure to cultural institutions was limited, at best. I have always been drawn to places and objects that are full of mystery. Some of my most significant visual influences were images I saw in church. While the religious aspect of my church experience was less pressing, the visual cues at church were what kept my attention. I am fascinated by shrines and ex-votos-devotional votive objects that families make to show love and respect. These objects inspire the type of physical intimacy that holds my artistic practice. Asian art is also a strong influence on my work. From Tibetan medical drawings to Buddhist sculptures, I find myself looking to ancient forms for inspiration. Gesture often plays a most prominent role for these artists, as it does for me, whether it plays out in a small aspect of the image or is its essence, as with the images of hands.

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