The Landing is pleased to present Wild Child, the debut Los Angeles solo exhibition for New York based artist Amanda Valdez. Wild Child will be on view May 4th through June 15th, 2019.
Amanda Valdez creates abstract works on canvas that incorporate embroidery, quilting, oil stick on mounted paper, and hand-dyed and commercially sourced fabrics. Her engineered surfaces have a vivid sense of tactility — they incorporate fabric embedded into the canvas structure, raised paint on paper, and silky embroidery floss. The interplay between varying materials and processes, between hard-edged and soft forms, and between art histories contributes to the luminous energy contained in these abstract works. There are two major traditions being referenced: the painting tradition, which has historically been male-dominated, and the fiber art tradition, which has been primarily female. A tension between these two traditions is felt in Valdez’s highly personal yet historically-rooted practice.
One of the repeating motifs across Wild Child is a claw-like or concave form in combination with a circle. Says Valdez, “I’m looking at the tension there — the balance between the hard-edge, irregular, sharp form and the circle. These circles are flash points of things you’re responsible for; the works are exploring the slippage between these shapes, and also how things come together, emotionally and psychologically — the hard edges and the pressure points in trying to hold things together: that pressure in the body.” This new body of work was made while Valdez was at the artist’s residency 100 W Corsicana. Located in a rural Texas landscape, the residency provided her with a large second-floor studio with 360-degree views of the big, open sky from sunrise to sunset. The palette in these works — cool blues, greens and blacks alongside warmer pinks, reds, and ochres — speaks to the shifting colors of the Texas landscape, dawn to midnight. The large studio space allowed Valdez to work on several canvases at once, creating a common dialogue across the paintings and capturing the Texas glow of light, as seen in paintings such as Monastic Season and Grace III.
One of the major themes in the exhibition is the “through line of generations,” says Valdez, who was pregnant while making the work. “I was thinking a lot about two becoming three—the equation 1 + 1 = 3.” In the painting Our Favorite Rapture, two embroidered circles support a base which holds a third circle, nestled into the top of the frenetic formation. In New to Me, New to You, a soft, rounded shape surrounds a large, central circle, recalling incubation. Similarly, Wild Child 5 features two larger circles and one smaller one.
Valdez’s paintings evolve from an initial drawing process, with some drawings prompting her to explore their forms further. “Sometimes shapes stay deeply mysterious to me,” she says; “sometimes I can tell what’s influencing their nature.” While these forms can be read in terms of painterly abstraction, the paintings do incorporate specific quilting patterns with their own historic meanings. New to You, New to Me features a traditional log cabin quilting pattern connotative of home, with its red center square representing hearth, fire, and the center of the house. The circumferential fence post pattern in Wild Child 3 references the perimeter of the home.
Generational thinking is apparent in the paintings Wild Child 3–7, as well as the exhibition title. “I was my own wild child, and I think that energy went straight into my works once I transitioned from crazy adolescence into my mid-20s. I see the shapes in my paintings as a collection of ‘wild childs’. I was a wild child, my grandmother was a wild child, and I’m pregnant and preparing to have a wild child.” Generational thinking also influenced the paintings Pepper Pot IV & V . “That was something my mom’s mom would ask me on the phone when I was an out-of-control teenager — ‘Are you being a little pepper pot?’ That always stuck with me.” Pepper Pot V portrays an abstracted vessel in two distinct sections: the upper section is made up of luminous embroidered swaths in fiery red, brown and tan; this energized area is supported by a quilted section just below it, woven in a traditional pattern and rendered in comforting shades of blue. An energized interrelationship between sections of canvas activity — an active balancing between varying energies — is often at play in Valdez’s works.
Though personal themes influence Valdez in her practice, the eventual forms and compositions she arrives at remain open to the viewer. Only in titling the works does the artist give a poetic nod to the personal narratives at play in their making.
Amanda Valdez received her MFA from Hunter College in New York City and her BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her most recent solo exhibitions include First Might at Denny Dimin Gallery in New York, Hot Bed at Dot Fiftyone Gallery in Miami, Ladies’ Night at the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, and The Mysteries at Koki Arts in Tokyo. Valdez has received artist residencies at the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, New Roots Foundation, 100W Corsicana, and Byrdcliffe. She’s received grants from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, Hunter College, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the 2011 College Art Association MFA Professional-Development Fellowship. Her work is included in the collections of the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, Davis Museum at Wellesley College, Time Equities in New York, JoAnn Hickey in New York, A.G. Rosen in New York, and Adam Driver and Joanne Tucker in New York.