Amanda Valdez: Breaking Wave exhibit at the Danforth Gallery

Amanda Valdez: Breaking Wave

Charles Danforth Gallery, Jewett Hall, University of Maine at Augusta

September 1 – October 14, 2022

Opening Reception with Gallery Talk: Thursday, September 1, 2022, at 12 p.m.
Zoom Q & A with the Artist: September 7, 2022, at 12 p.m. via Zoom
A Conversation Between Amanda Valdez and Dr. Noga Bernstein: Date & Time To Be Determined

embroidery, hand dyed fabric, fabric, handwoven textile, and canvas
Amanda Valdez, Breaking Wave 2, 2022, embroidery, hand dyed fabric, fabric, handwoven textile, and canvas, 60 x 48 in, 152.40 x 121.92 cm, ©Amanda Valdez 2022

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.

The Charles Danforth Gallery at the University of Maine at Augusta is located in Jewett Hall, and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET. The artist will offer a gallery talk at her opening reception on September 1 at 12 p.m. ET, as well as a Zoom Q&A on September 7 at 12 p.m. ET, and a dialogue with Dr. Noga Bernstein at a date and time TBA.

Artist Biography

Amanda Valdez was born in Seattle, WA and is currently based in New York City. She received her MFA from Hunter College in New York City and BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has been the recipient of Artist-in-Residency awards from Yaddo, MacDowell Colony, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, and the Joan Mitchell Center, to name a few. Recent solo exhibitions include The Deep Way, The Landing Gallery, Los Angeles, Piecework, Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, NY, Gratitude, Denny Gallery New York, Rotherwas Project 1: Amanda Valdez. Ladies’ Night, Mead Art Museum, Amherst University, Rattle Around, Koki Fine Arts, Tokyo. She was awarded the 2011 College Art Association MFA Professional-Development Fellowship. She is included in the collections of The Davis Museum at Wellesley College and The Mead Art Museum at Amherst University, along with private collections. She is represented by Denny Dimin Gallery, New York and Hong Kong, and The Landing Gallery, Los Angeles.

The Charles Danforth Gallery at the University of Maine at Augusta

Named after a renowned artist and former faculty member at the University of Maine at Augusta, the Charles Danforth Gallery serves the UMA campus and the wider community of central Maine with rotating contemporary art exhibitions. Conceived as a living classroom, and used for lectures and other events, the gallery is a site for faculty, students, alumni, and community members to engage with ideas, forms, and conversations in art. The gallery is open during regular business hours from September through May.