My Cousin Is Amazing!


I mean, I’ve always known she’s amazing, but I wanted to help get the word out! Last week, a friend and I went to the School of The Art Institute of Chicago’s MFA open studio night. I was astounded by not just my cousin, but the fine company she keeps as contemporaries; I was astounded by her work especially! I just adored the juxtaposition of images against different surfaces, as well as her play on light and dark. As a quilter, I’m always in some way, shape, or form working with light and dark aspects, as that is what really brings a quilt to life. Valerie’s studio was truly amazing! I’m very happy I went, – and for those of you who know me personally, know how much I hate leaving the house- and I’m even happier we’re related. Here’s to you Valerie Xanos – my favorite artist!

Follow the jump for the artist’s statement, and a gallery of pictures from the studio.

  • Valerie Xanos, Light & Dark: An Experiment in Disrupted Projection Original Digital Photographs as timed projections in darkness, Multi-media Installation. 2016

    This work is about the artist’s personal relationship with light and dark. The photographs are taken in the darkest of night and intended to express conflicting and sublime emotions about the nature of light and dark, and the physical/psychological responses of the artist. The positionality of the artist to light and dark is psychologically complex. Photosensitivity leads to hypersensitivity which leads to hyperawareness and the position of being lost in an alternate world. In this alternate world, light is toxic, representing sickness, pain, and fear. Yet memory sensations of light signify warmth, energy, freedom and adventure. Darkness is similarly polarized representing safety, comfort, solitude, freedom and a defense against the light. Darkness can also bring with it sensations of isolation, restriction, fear, and depression. Thus, the alternate world is simultaneously horrifying and beautiful, tragic and sensual, sinister and soothing. Light fills all the artist’s senses and often drives away reason. There is the perception of being small and held in awe of this larger dangerous world of light and dark. The artist is never in control, instead subject to the power of Nature. Sunlight and Darkness are goddesses that are both loved and feared. The “other world” is sublime.

    The intention of this experimental installation is to create a sense of otherworldliness. The intention lies in the thread that light (and by natural opposition, dark) is the concept, subject, media, and process of the work. The viewer is meant to experience the space. The light of the photographs is reactivated in the projections. The dynamism of recorded light is brought to attention again through the light of the projector as an elemental medium. Light is re-appropriated to create a space where the viewer can be immersed in images that express an alienated sense of the sublime. The projections are disrupted by objects which reflect, refract, diffuse, distort, transfer, and create movement. The viewers are also “disruptors” of the visual sensations within the space. Their bodies can block light from any of the multiple projections, creating silhouettes and shadows; they merge with the imagery as their body captures a projection. This carries the implication of the spectator in the space and engaged as part of the composition itself. In essence, this work explores transformative space, recreating the sublime “other world” that the artist experiences through her hypersensitivity to light.

1 Comment

  1. Nellie Cotton says:

    I am a parent of one of Ms.Xanos’ students. This is just a bit of her enormous talent. It is truly an honor and a privilege to have her teaching our youth. She is magnificent!

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