We sit down with artist and MarkMaker Amanda Valdez to find out what inspires her and why…
Marfa, Texas – a small city with a big influence in the art world. So unassuming is this Texan town you could be forgiven for wondering if its citizens are even aware of just how beautiful their environment is.
Take an easy five minute walk down the road in any direction and you’ll find inspiration every step of the way. For those with an eye for art, the colors of the sky alone can be the catalyst for your next project, and with the galleries and foundations scattered across the town, you know you’re in well-respected, creative company.
Who better to give us a little bit more perspective than artist and MarkMaker Amanda Valdez, who sought inspiration from all corners of Marfa.
So Amanda, why was Marfa such an inspiration for you on an artistic level?
“As an artist, Marfa was a pilgrimage for a lot of my peers and other artists – that’s how it’s viewed in the art world. I was prepared for that art aspect of it with its different arts foundations, but just the aesthetics of the city alone, despite any overarching art aspect, I found really captivating.
“It’s one town where I really love how the rundown southwestern vibe is mixed with the built-up southwestern modernism vibe. Just walking around, you can be engaged in one time period to another, architecturally speaking, and that’s something I wasn’t expecting. For me, it’s the fact that Marfa is not only this art pilgrimage but also this really beautiful austere landscape where the light is just another element drawing you to be there.”
Are there any specific moments that stand out in your career?
“Moments of exhilaration always come during moments of uncertainty for me. Two particularly stand out for me. A couple months before Graduate School was finishing up—which is slightly terrifying—I was accepted to MacDowell Colony, an amazing and prestigious artist residency program. In my mind it was beyond a shot in the dark, but to be awarded this was such an affirmation that I would be supported after leaving this incredibly supportive bubble that is grad school. The second was five days before my last solo show opened this past fall, and most artists by the time they get to opening of their solo shows have sunk everything into their work financially, I got an email from my gallerist that the biggest piece in the show had sold to an amazing collector. I was with my mom at the time, who had come into town for the show and rejoicing with her in that moment couldn't have been more perfect. All my fear about the show went away when the biggest piece sold first! I was able to enjoy myself knowing that I was going to be okay. When I'm experiencing uncertainty I try and recall these moments of overwhelming support and let that free me up to keep my mind focused on the work and not the external pressures that can build.”
What advice would you offer aspiring artists struggling to get their work seen and their voice heard?
“My best advice to an artist wanting their work to be seen is to build their own community. Do studio visits with your friends or reach out to other artists that are on your level whose work you want to consider, talk about, and think about. Read John Cage's Rules to Teachers and Students. I was given them by someone I really respect and took that serious. I put them up on my studio wall for three years. I took rule 7 extremely serious, “The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all the work all of the time that eventually catch on to things.” Because once you catch onto something, people will want to come talk to you about it.”
Are the highs high enough to outweigh the lows?
“The highs are totally high enough. It's really about the work and I am addicted to the surprise that I constantly experience making my work in the studio.”