Valerie Salez: Noah of the North
October 2, 2008
For years Salez had been collecting publications she found mostly in the Dawson City dump. Others were found in school buildings in abandoned mining towns. Her collection spans some 80 years and includes publications ranging from children’s exercise and text books, different dictionary series, Audubon books, history books, storybooks, brochures, and a variety of magazines.
“I am an overly nostalgic and sentimental person who loves a good fairy tale, the old ways and, even more, the old things. I can’t just “look” at old things in a stationary way. I must bring life, even if momentarily, to lifeless, now useless things to draw attention to, celebrate, and re-vision its fragile yet well aged and endured being.”
Lacking any great skill in drawing, painting or illustrating, creating streaming collages emerges from Salez’s appreciation of printing methods and design that goes into each image. With fine work to be found in her collection, Salez is more interested in arranging and rearranging these found images.
It’s a similar project to her continuing untitled re-beautification of industrial Dawson City through site-specific installations, like a barge covered in Afghans.
“The animals in the Congregation series was the first time I took an excessive amount of time to perfectly cut out each and every animal. Eventually I went back through all my books and chopped out every animal I came across. It was totally fun to watch the books diminish in size and content and then throw what to me was the skeleton of the book.”
There’s a touch of criticism in Salez’s congregation of immaculate and romanticized imagery featured in the cut-outs. This wasn’t her intention, although she does admit it “Would be interesting to see a series of well executed paintings or drawings in children’s or glossy reference books of these beautiful, dirty, inbred, character-filled beasts.”
A sucker for the romanticized interpretations of animals found in her collection, she’s created a series of collages with as much sentimentality, nostalgia and fairytale-like romance as the images themselves. She’s also interested in exploring the further potential of her coveted images.
“I am sure I project my own personal melancholy or pain upon the inanimate. Perhaps it’s some way of dealing with my fears surrounding abandonment, uselessness, and age. By re-invigorating the inanimate, forgotten, aging, or even images stuck between the pages of long closed books I release something that has long been frozen in time. This eases my fears, helps subside the melancholy, and entertains my senses.”
Congregation will be on display from Thu October 2 – Fri November 14 at Dawson City’s Odd Gallery.
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