The Capitol Center for the Arts welcomes Vermont native Valerie Hird as part of its 2016-17 Salon Series. This series brings artists and audiences together for thought-provoking discussions and performances in our intimate, Victorian-era Kimball House mansion.
Hird has close creative ties to the people and countries of the Middle East and Central Asia where she has worked and traveled for 25 years. Her work explores cultural mythologies and the roles they play in Eastern and Western societies.
Hird’s first decade’s travel and study of semi-nomadic societies and their iconic visual language resulted in 1999 in a nationally touring exhibition: ‘Nomadic Connections’ which premiered in Vermont at the Helen Day Art Center, and traveled to San Francisco’s Peter Pap Gallery before being presented in New York at the Museum of the School for the Visual Arts in 2001.
The next years were devoted to the icons of Western culture, specifically our cyclical – and sometimes obsessive – fascination with the superhero. This prolific period resulted in the solo exhibitions entitled ‘Cycles of Faith – Cycles of Fiction’, ‘Myths Now and Then’, ‘Everybody Wants To Be a Superhero’, and ‘Hero Worship’, as well as the artist books Towers of Babel,Mindlines, and A Consumer’s Guide to Religion, and the video ‘Everybody Wants To Be a Superhero’, exhibited by the Nohra Haime Gallery at FIAC and DIVA in Paris, Bridge Art Fair in London and Art Basel Miami.
In 2007 Hird returned to the Middle East where she created The Maiden Voyages Project – a collaboration exploring cultural differences among women from Jordan, Iran, Egypt and the Palestinian West Bank. Their written diaries were translated by Hird into an extensive series of sequential drawings. The project, animated for the Internet, also inspired a series of presentations, lectures and exhibitions both in the US and abroad. Most recently in 2013-15, presentations included Drawing In the Middle East, American University Dubai; Global Center For Drawing, North Melbourne, Australia; Digital Checkpoints: FLEEF, on-line Digital Film Festival; CTL Conference 3, Florence, Italy; and Center For Book Arts, NY, NY.
Her present body of work uses a full range of visual media; painting, video and installation art, to describe a new creation mythology. Using the vast panoply of creation stories collected during her years of travel and blending their distinctive patterns and gestures to describe her own unique cosmological narrative, Hird exhibited a series of large-scale painted scrolls entitled ‘The Fifth Day’. Premiering in New York in 2012, it portrayed the emergence of an uninhabited and complex primal world. The second exhibition,‘Origination’continued the dialogue describing the interconnections between the primary elements. It opened in New York and Cartagena, Colombia in 2014. In 2015- 16 Hird created two versions of a large primordial tree, ‘The Genesis Tree’. Each version contained three-thousand individually-folded origami forms whose helix-shaped trunk referenced DNA and its canopy blossomed into unique birds representing the full diversity of life. The first tree exhibited in 2015 at the MCLA Gallery in MA and at ArtPrize in MI. The second much larger version was a crowd-sourced international outreach project representing diverse age groups, artists, teachers, museums, hospitals and research groups from 8 countries, 11 US States and 28 cities, exhibited in 2016 in New York. Hird is presently working on a series of drawings and animated videos commenting on humanity’s evolving relationships with the natural world.
Hird has also participated recently in a number of exhibitions including the Center for Book Arts in Manhattan, MASSMoCA, Portsmouth Museum, and the Tampa Art Museum. The United Nations Art in Embassies program has three times acquired Hird’s work for their embassies in Turkey, Chile and Cuba. Other collections include the US State Department, Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Fleming Museum, and Standard Charter Bank.
Ms. Hird appears through the support of McGowan Fine Art, where her work is on display February 21 -March 24.