BAM: Where (we) Live Dec 19-22nd (Victoria Valencia.)

Victoria Valencia.

On Dec 19-22nd So Percussion will combine the wonderfully unique voices of Ain Gordon, Greg Mcmurray, Martin Schmidt, and Emily Johnson with an alternating artistic “performer” each night to creatively explore the idea of a home onstage in Where (we) Live at Brooklyn Academy of Music. Artists will include, Paula Greif (ceramics), Marsha Trattner (blacksmith), Ricardo Vecchio (painter), Victoria Valencia (woodworker.) These performances are part of BAM’s 30th Next Wave Festival.


Paula Greif, Ceramics (Dec 19)
Marsha Trattner, Blacksmith (Dec 20)
Riccardo Vecchio, Painter (Dec 21)
Victoria Valencia, Woodworker (Dec 22)


By Nell Whittaker

THE 22: I wondered if you could expand a little on how you treat disused spaces and how you approach the challenge of trying to fill them with something suitable.

VICTORIA VALENCIA: A disused space to me; a space you want more from. Sometimes you want a space to hold a feeling, a purpose. Sometimes that purpose is function. Function of a piece can come in many forms. To be pleasing to the eye, hold a feeling or memory, to sit on, rest and think, have a meal, a drink, or get to work. I make things that fill those spaces. My work holds stories, those of its life before this form, marks from who used them before. The stories of why these trees have fallen.

22: Your designs are like a meeting between the natural and the man-made. If the raw materials you use dictate the shape of your final product (‘ the imperfect intentions of  [the] varied sourced material’), what purpose does the man-made serve?

VV: I respect its original form, not trying to make it too different. The raw materials are beautiful in themselves. A slab of tree can tell you why it fell or how fast it grew, marks of age. The raw material is nature’s art. The me-made is my art. Its my compliment to the nature.

22: What affect does Brooklyn have on what you create?

VV: I love this place. I use the wood from old watertowers. I use trees that grew in Brooklyn and fell in Brooklyn. I ride my bike through its streets and find inspiration.My friends and fellow artist in Brooklyn inspire me.

22: What is unique about your creative process – what do you think will make it interesting to an audience who has no familiarity already with your work?

VV: I work backwards sometimes…sometimes, I have the material before the design. I have a stack of wood that I’ve collected and been given. I get inspired and it moves forward. If I design (think too much) nothing happens.

22: On the other hand, do you think the audience or the atmosphere will affect what you are creating on the night itself?

VV: Yes. I have ideas of what I can do on that Saturday night, but no plan. I may just be handplaning the whole time. Working a rough piece towards a finished state.

22: Do you have a clear idea of what it is you will make at the show?

VV: Something with wood since it would be a bit complicated to weld on stage. My clear idea is I want to be comfortable, I want to have fun, I want to play.

22: Do you think that being self-taught has enabled you to work without restrictions?

VV: Its enabled me to be in my process. I learn something and I work at it until I feel I’ve improved. Then I move on to the next skill. I’m learning slow but well. I learn what intrigues me, while bypassing the “shoulds.” I learn from the materials, my peers and my experience.

22: What impact do you think a conventional education in furniture making would have had on your work?

VV: I wouldn’t have had the experiences I’ve had. I wouldn’t have lived in many places and found my passion through my love for challenges. I would have judged myself because I am not a traditional classroom student. I probably would know more design history. I would be been more in debt and felt like I need to make my work rather than want to.

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