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Shalene Valenzuela

My ceramic sculptures reflect upon a variety of issues with a thoughtful, yet humorous and ironic tone. I reproduce everyday common objects primarily through slipcasting, and illustrate the surfaces with hand-painted imagery. The narratives I create reference fairytales, urban mythologies, consumer culture, societal expectations, etiquette, politics, and coming-of-age issues. Stylistically, my imagery is pulled from somewhat dated sources that represent an idealized time in society and advertising. Beneath the shiny veneer of these relics hides a complex and sometimes contradicting truth of what things seem to appear as upon first glance.

Exploring issues focusing on women is important to me for many reasons, most notably in examining my own personal history and how I evolved into who I am today. However, my investigations speak to a greater issue of how women in general perceive themselves and are seen in society, historically and today. My exploration of self perception and expectations also reaches beyond purely feminist concerns, addressing how assumptions of character based on societal biases leads to a precarious and unbalanced state of humankind.

My ceramic work is a form of trompe l’oeil with a twist. In using clay to reinvent everyday objects, I play with the notion that things are not what they initially seem to be. The object being referenced remains recognizable while the illustrations are imperative in creating the narratives that create various dialogues and statements within and about the physical object.