Laurence Vallieres

As an artist, one’s goal must be to express what is common and mundane in a way that makes it interesting and novel. To this end, I use animal imagery to symbolize and represent political issues and social behavior. My work is greatly inspired by literature from the authors Georges Orwell and Art Spiegelman. Their deft use of metaphor allowed them to critique an issue or philosophy without explicitly stating the target of their anger. This use of metaphor gave their work the feel of a widely-circulated, savage inside joke. Similarly, I create art that maintains both visual appeal and an understated sense of humor. I want the meaning of my pieces to both capture the eye of the viewer initially and leave them with something to consider long after they’ve left. I sculpt monkeys, elephants and rhinoceroses, thinking about their human correspondents or the ideologies they represent.

Studying in Los Angeles and doing an artist residency in St-Petersbourg Russia transformed my work. The city as a concept has always been a source of inspiration for me, and experiencing two different cities like that was a turning point in my evolution as an artist. I am fascinated by architecture, urban development, street art and the methodical mess of the suburbia. In Los Angeles I could not help but notice the waste of space of the suburbs and how difficult it was to get around without using the congested, aesthetically disgusting freeway system. Los Angeles is the product of corporate and companies Conversely, Ste-Petersbourg is a city created to look impressive. Classical architecture shines like it was invented there. If at one point this style of architecture was emblematic of democracy, it has shifted dramatically when it was built purely for the purpose of showing one’s power. These qualities, whether good or bad, add life to the city. They allow us to form opinions and feelings about cities beyond their purely utilitarian functions, and in this way what is overtly glass and steel can become, in the mind of inhabitants, the body parts of a living organism. With that in mind, I’ve recently become interested in installation. I started to take my sculptures outside, installing them in the city where they belong. As my work is heavily influenced by political philosophy and criticism, I decided that public spaces would maximize my ability to reach my audience and make them consider the themes behind my work. Additionally, I became interested in exploring the juxtaposition of an artwork in an unexpected environment and the reaction it creates. Hiding a small sculpture in the cracks of a wall, posing it on the sidewalk or letting it hang from a tree made me think about the purpose of showing art and how it is done. What is graffiti art and what is vandalism?