Iowa Artists 2021: Olivia Valentine

but of light

March 12 — May 16, 2021 
Richard Meier Building & I.M. Pei Building

This exhibition presents two bodies of work by Olivia Valentine. Valentine is recognized for her work in textile construction, drawing, and sculpture, as well as textile installations that interface with architecture. For this project, Valentine presents Mediate/Equivocate and The shadow is my body.  

The Art Center’s Richard Meier building will feature Mediate/Equivocate, a large-scale installation generated in response to Meier’s deliberate, gridded design. Embedded within the three-story wall in the building’s atrium is a series of ropes. Viewed from a distance, the ropes appear to be woven into the wall, in a pattern that is responsive to its surroundings. Additionally, the ropes drape over the top of the third story wall, cascade into the atrium space, and collect on the ground floor. This entanglement suggests the transformation of the wall from an indiscernible architectural element to an active, three-dimensional component of the building. Across the museum in the I. M. Pei building’s lower gallery, The shadow is my body consists of low relief, small-scale plaster sculptures whose flat surfaces support watercolor drawings that resemble spilled liquid. Together, Mediate/Equivocate and The shadow is my body emphasize overlooked elements of the Des Moines Art Center’s architecture: the verticality of the Meier building and horizontality of the I. M. Pei wing. In addition, they initiate relationships between architecture and textile structures—two traditionally gendered modes of spatial production.  

The exhibition will be accompanied by a unique postcard book featuring an essay by Shannon Rae Stratton, executive director of Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists' Residency. 

Valentine is an Assistant Professor in the College of Design at Iowa State University. She is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship for Installation Art in Turkey and the Brandford/Elliott Award for Excellence in Fiber Arts. Recently, Valentine was awarded the 2020 Iowa Arts Fellowship. Past exhibitions include the Museum of Arts and Design (New York), the Danish Royal Academy (Copenhagen), and The American Academy in Rome (Italy). Valentine received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Iowa Artists 2021: Olivia Valentine is organized by Associate Curator Jared Ledesma.

Olivia Valentine
Not of longing, but of light, 2019
Plaster, rabbit skin glue, watercolor
5/8 x 6 3/4 x 6 1/4 in.
Photo credit: Olivia Valentine

entirely unexpected