Artist in Residence: Kelly Valletta

When I applied to the Artist in Residence program at TAC, I was most excited about the opportunity to join a creative community.  We’ve only been working together for a couple of months,  but I’m already amazed and inspired by my fellow residents, and eager to continue exploring my own work alongside such a talented group of artists and designers.

Now that the 2012-2013 cycle is in full swing, I wanted to take some time to sit down with each resident to learn a bit more about their process and aspirations.  First up: Kelly Valletta.  For the past 2 years, Kelly has been the Director of Youth Programs at TAC.  This fall, she decided to focus on developing her own artwork through the residency program.

What kind of work do you make?

I consider myself a collage artist.  Even if I’m doing something that’s more structural, it’s about assembling shapes and forms.  I have been doing eggshell collages with encaustic and guache and using other food products.  My materials are usually things that I stumble upon.

Why did you apply to the residency program?

I wanted to work in a way that I hadn’t worked before.  And I’ve never given myself the time, or really taken myself seriously as an artist.  I don’t think I allowed myself the luxury. I am always making something – it’s all over the place.  I’ll be printing, I’ll be weaving, I’ll be making collage, building something, and it’s always been pretty scattered and based on what I feel like doing at the time.  So, I wanted to take this as an opportunity to focus in, and actually try and discover what my artwork really means to me.

When did you first get interested in textile art?

I had a sewing machine for many years but didn’t really use it much.  I found that I was just collecting fabrics.  And when I realized that’s what I was doing I started moving into designs and pattern making.  I only really became fully immersed in textiles at TAC.  I went to school with Visnja, the owner and founder, and she asked me to come teach here, and that’s when I was opened up to this whole other world – it’s a serious art world. It’s something I was not exposed to in school.  There’s a vast world of textiles, artists and designers that I never knew existed.


What’s been the most rewarding part of the residency so far?

I love our critiques.  I love hearing about other peoples’ work and their processes.  I really like hearing feedback from people.  It’s funny – I think the things that I’m drawn to, a lot of outsiders maybe don’t take it as seriously as I do, and it’s interesting to be in a space where people are giving me the opportunity to take it seriously and talk about what I’m doing.  It’s not just tinkering, it’s something that means more than that.  I like working collaboratively and the critique is a chance to do that – to take the ideas outside of your own head and find directions that you maybe wouldn’t have otherwise.  I’m trying to be a little bit different in my process since I’ve been here.  Being in this space allows you to try on something new and have support throughout.

How do you balance having a job and a studio practice? How do you find time to make sure you’re taking care of your art and making work?

The boring answer is: I wrote myself a schedule and I’m trying to stick to it.  That is something really different for me – treating this like a job.  For me, making is something that is important for my well-being so I’m giving myself that opportunity right now in a way that I previously hadn’t.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

The kids that I work with are the most inspiring to me.  They create with reckless abandon.  They never question the value of what they’re doing; they never question if it’s not going to work or if it’s something that’s not worthwhile.  They work in a very different way – in a way that we get trained out of.  It’s inspiring to see it, and being able to participate in their process is really amazing.

What are your hopes for when you finish the residency?

I’m trying not to think that far ahead.  I’m focusing on right now and developing better practices for myself, which is something that I hope to continue after I’m here; making the time in a structured way, and treating it like it’s something more important than I have in the past.


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