Amanda Valdez

(Born 1982 in Seattle, WA; Lives and works in New York)

I get really hopeful when I spend time with younger artists and see the ease of what they’re working with. In high school I was influenced by German expressionists. When I look back at my work I see the seeds of what I was trying to work with. I see that bold expression of suffering, of inner turmoil. I appreciate that I was able to express myself at that time. It saved me. It was a period that changed everything in my life.

The biggest influence on my work was growing up in the epic, big, sturdy landscape of the Pacific Northwest. That has had the biggest impact on my shape making. We’d go on road trips, we’d go camping out into the mountains, in different rivers, so more than a material, I feel those experiences ended up in the type of abstraction I work with.

When you ask me to characterize my studio, it’s like you’re asking me to describe my skin. It’s so much a part of me. It’s kind of this sanctuary. It’s where I show up to do battle, where I show up to be alone, to be quiet and where I have the potential to find something new.

In my practice drawing is everything. Without drawing I have no shapes. I often describe drawing as a way to think through my hands. Drawing is a way to dislodge, from my own inner aquifer of experiences, these shapes. I really believe my hands are quite potentially more intelligent than my mind. We carry intelligence in our bodies. In the naked moment of drawing, I’m contending with my humanness in a very quiet way.

One of my main attractions to abstraction is that I find I have the potential to talk to the most amount of people with my shape.

In journaling there are times where memories come out and those spark new ideas to experiment with, things no one is ever going to see. You don’t know where an idea is going. I see morning writing as a tool I use during different transitions in my life, a way to process the emotional landscape. Without journaling or drawing, you’d have to have a very different method of self reflection. Putting pen to paper offers the potential to see yourself objectively.

Anne Truitt’s ‘Daybook’, is one of the best books written by an artist.

 — Conversation on May 13, 2020

Listen to our conversation here:


Selected Image from the Collection:

Valdez, Amanda, Sunset Revenge, 2012, Works on Paper, Paper: 14 x 17 1/2 in.