In her debut Maine exhibition Breaking Wave, New York City-based artist Amanda Valdez exhibits a series of new works created especially for the geometric, multi-level space of the Charles Danforth Gallery at the University of Maine at Augusta. The artist will participate in programming during the exhibition, inviting students engaged with questions of painting, textiles, art history, and feminism. The public is invited to join UMA’s community in welcoming this internationally-known artist and her works to Maine in a series of live and Zoom events during her exhibition, including an opening reception and gallery talk, a Zoom Q&A with the artist, and a moderated discussion with art historian Dr. Noga Bernstein.
Valdez’s works have recently been shown in solo exhibitions at the Landing Gallery in Los Angeles in 2021, where her show was an Artforum “Critics’ Pick,” at Koki Arts in Tokyo, Japan in 2020, and at the Heckscher Museum on Long Island the same year. She has completed numerous prestigious residencies, including at Yaddo and the McDowell Colony, and two residencies at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans. She is represented by Denny Dimin Gallery in New York and the Landing Gallery in Los Angeles.
Breaking Wave features four new large-scale works constructed of hand-woven textiles on a floor loom, quilted fabrics, embroidery, and paint that are based on the precise geometric notations of weaving diagrams and quilting patterns that play on the square format of the gallery itself. Starting with the regular squares of graph paper, Valdez creates patterns for her works that shift between woven passages, quilted sections, embroidery, and organic sometimes-painted shapes. The exhibition’s title references the ways her works create and then break down linear structures with organic forms, but also the ways curvilinear shapes can spring from the strictures of the grid. Hybridizing weaving, quilting, and drawing to create textile “paintings,” Valdez’s new works intertwine the linear structure of the grid, which mirrors and symbolizes (in weaving diagrams) the warp and weft of the loom or the squares of a quilt and the architecture of the Danforth Gallery, and the organic gestures of nature and of painting.
Steeped in the histories of art and textile design, Valdez’s works reference the Modernist devotion to grids, whose strict mathematical geometry were important to the Minimal and Conceptual art movements of the 1960s and 70s. Valdez’s work also references the cultural resilience and resonance of women’s craft traditions, the perceived individuality of brush strokes in the Abstract Expressionist paintings of the mid-twentieth century, and the American Pattern & Decoration Movement that began in the early 1970s.
As art historian, Dr. Lisa D. Frieman wrote in her 2021 essay for the artist’s catalog, Gratitude, “Valdez has developed her own conceptual language that reveals materially how diverse aesthetic media and practices, such as fabric, sewing, quilting, and weaving, absorbed from different times and cultures, can rigorously coexist with abstract painting and drawing.” (24)
Valdez’s innovative use of materials, her deeply historical approach to art-making, and her craft-centric, feminist approach to painting align with the University of Maine at Augusta Art program’s emphasis on integrating form and concept in artworks by rigorously exploring the material and historical contexts for art materials and artworks. The campus is thrilled to welcome Valdez and her works, and to share programming around her exhibition with UMA and the wider arts community in Maine and beyond.
September 1 – October 14, 2022
Charles Danforth Gallery, Jewett Hall, University of Maine at Augusta