YabYum Seven: Valerie Hunt

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“How old are you deep inside” – stamping of hand

1. Who are you and what do you do? 

Valerie Hunt: Artist, Interior Designer, Professor, Dancer and DJ. Eclectic and always have been.

As a DJ, I focus on engaging guests with dance activities, line dances and games that encourage everyone to get up and dance, along with providing group dance lessons and dance performances at private, corporate, and publicly-sponsored, themed events. Find me on Facebook here and my website here.

As an artist, I select between mixed media, sculpture, painting, performance, video, social engagement and/or installation – whatever it takes to communicate my idea. Let’s focus on my role as an artist for this interview.

2. How did you get your start?    

After high school I pursued a bachelor’s degree in interior design, instead of art, to be certain that I’d make a good living. After graduating from LSU, I practiced commercial interior architecture for 20 years.

Years after graduation, I took a college painting class for fun to create some “Sofa art” for my new home. I quickly learned not to do that! I learned that I had a talent for art and pursued a BFA in painting and sculpture from FAU in Florida. I still wanted more, so I applied and earned a master’s degree from ASU. Since then, I have enjoyed taking ten post-graduate art classes at ASU. Mixed in with all these classes that I’ve taken, I’ve also taught 140 college-level classes in art and design as either full time professor or adjunct.

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“How Old Are You Deep Inside” – Paper playing cards in metal box, 5″ x 3″ x 1″

3. What inspires you?

Inspiration comes from my life experiences, along with social observations and situations. For example, I am finding inspiration in the posts from a Facebook Group that I created: Something Your Parents Told You. I ask group members to post their answer to this question: “Tell me a phrase or sentence that your parents told you as a child. List the first thing that comes to mind”.

This new body of work is a glimpse into what parents tell their children that can become emotional baggage. Some things my parents told me as a child play silently in the back of my head, unrelentingly. Friends and acquaintances are helping me through this predicament by sharing their own memories. I find this fascinating, pairing what was said to “who they are”. I am creating all sorts of artworks with the quotes.

Inspiration also comes from being immersed in a learning environment: observing what other artists are doing, getting feedback from peers, participating in collaborative efforts, being in situations that open my eyes to new things and finding mentors that push me in directions that I would never think of. When I am teaching, my students often inspire me.

4. What do you like about AZ? 

It is easy to live here. I like the weather (for eight months of the year), the desert, the mountains, and being a part of the art scene here. I have also liked every other place that I have lived: Rochester (NY), Baton Rouge, Los Angeles, and West Palm Beach.

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“Mobility” – acrylic sheet, wood and mixed media, 32″ x 10″ x 19″

5. Where can we see your work?

My website is ValHunt.com. For just images of my work, go to my Flickr page here. My Facebook artist page is called Valerie Hunt Fine Art (go to Photos and open the Albums tab to see my artwork).

I have a solo installation at Lotus Contemporary Art, 511 E. Roosevelt, Phoenix in October 2105. The show will feature both new work and crowd favorites from How Old Are You Deep Inside?  It’s from my ongoing series, called Aging Sucks, which seeks to document my personal observations and frustrations of getting older. If I have ever stamped your hand in the past, it will be in the show.

Small affordable artworks of mine are for sale at three venues (as of August 2015): {9} The Gallery, at Solo Trattoria (in the Esplanade across from the Biltmore on Camelback), and in the gift shop at Shemer Art Center.

6. What would you like to accomplish before you die?  

I’d like to continue teaching. It’s my way of nurturing and giving back.

7. What is your mantra?

My mantra is “stay curious” and “live to learn”.

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“Mom is 45 deep inside” – light box with transparency, 12″ x 4″
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“Springs” – acrylic sheet, metal, wood, spray paint, 26″ x 6″ x 28″
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Triped Installation – “Conflict” – clay (45 triped), 72″ x 12″
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“Age is Just a Number” – two views, mixed media, 13″ x 8″ x 11″
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“Aging Sucks Eye Chart” – mixed media, 40″ x 14″ x 5″
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“How Old Are You Deep Inside” – acrylic and plastic on four canvases, 53″ x 48″

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