There are numerous talented artists who hand paint ceramics. Even their own slip cast ceramics. (For those who don't know, slip-casting is one of the simplest methods of reproducing a replica of an original model). But what makes Shalene Valenzuela's work different is the items on which she is painting. Her ceramics are not tableware or homewares. Not pretty vases or wedding platters meant to be used in a functional way, but sculpture meant to make you think. Or laugh. Or both.
She paints mid-century retro imagery in a cartoon-like vintage advertising style on mundane objects she slip cast in ceramic. Irons, blenders, toasters, clocks, woollite bottles, pencil sharpeners, handguns, cell phones, women's shoes and more serve as her handmade canvases. Perfect replicas in white, she then adorns them with her whimsical visual commentary.
above: Shalene Valenzuela, On Thin Ice, slip cast ceramic, ribbon and paint
Some are a work of one item, always painted on all sides. Other pieces are sets, in which the boxes or containers, as well as the objects within, are also cast in ceramic and hand painted.
While many of the objects and their images clearly play off of female stereotypes from the Harlet to the Happy Homemaker to the Fashionista with a shoe fetish. Others mock religion, our vanity or are a statement of our society's addiction to television.
Regardless, they are as amusing to look at as to ponder. Here are a few of her fabulous pieces from 2002 to the present, in no particular order:
Toasters and Bread, front and back:
Milk Cartons (front and back):
Pencil sharpener (front and back):
detail of 99 Bottles:
Science Girls' Kit (interior and exterior):
Glue Bottles (front and back)
Shoes in Shoeboxes:
Paint Sets and Box:
above: Shalene Valenzuela at work
Her Artist Statement:"My body of work consists of quirky pieces that reflect upon a variety of issues with a thoughtful, yet humorous tone. I am inspired by the potential of everyday common objects. I reproduce these objects in clay through hand-building, slip casting, or a combination of the two, and illustrate the surfaces with a variety of hand painted and screen printed imagery.
I primarily obtain my imagery from remnants of the past (instructional guides, advertisements, family photos, tall tales), and reconstruct the images in order to convey my narrative. These narratives generally deal with topics ranging from fairy tales, urban mythologies, societal expectations, etiquette, and coming-of-age issues.
Stylistically, much of my imagery is pulled from sources around the 1950’s era. Through advertising, common objects were embraced in the most royal fashion, and through television and print, images of the “perfect Americana life” were portrayed.
One way of explaining my building aesthetic would be a form of trompe l’oiel with a twist. The preciousness of clay as a medium helps transform my depicted common household item into something magical. I care about the object being referenced and recognizable while maintaining an illustrative, and almost “cartoonish” quality at times.
Sometimes my inspirations are just pure whimsy, and I find nothing wrong with that. Rules are sometimes meant to be broken- how else are we supposed to learn?"
You can find some of Shalene's work at the following galleries or her etsy store:
Clay Studio of Missoula
John Natsoulas Gallery Gift Shop
Tin Lark Gallery
ceramic art & whatnot
838 poplar st, missoula, mt 59802