Giovanni Valderas, an artist based in Oak Cliff, creates mixed media pieces inspired by his Latin American background. While piecing together charcoal, duct tape, reclaimed wood and indigenous fabric, Valderas channels the historic methods of piñata making to create "cultural constructs."
Where are you currently working?
VALDERAS: I was born and raised in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas and still reside there today.
How long have you been a professional artist?
VALDERAS: As a child, I always had an urge to create, utilizing whatever little resources we had available from pencils to take-out boxes, I found myself constructing and drawing all hours of the day. It wasn’t until I started volunteering at the Ice House Cultural Center (now Oak Cliff Cultural Center) and working along side other artists that I began to consider a career in the arts. Long story short, I ended up pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing and Painting from UNT and ultimately earned my Master of Fine Arts in Drawing and Painting from the College of Visual Arts at UNT in 2012.
What medium do you use?
VALDERAS: I use many mediums such as, charcoal, duct tape, reclaimed wood, acrylic paint, paper and indigenous fabric, all in hopes of creating a marriage of sculpture and painting that hang awkwardly off the wall.
How would you describe your art style?
VALDERAS: For lack of a better term, I have been describing my works more as “cultural constructs.” I pull elements from my Latin American ancestry, exploring the methods of piñata making and my cultural history. I’m also influenced by my American roots and appropriate imagery from the 1960s TV show “Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.,” a show I grew up watching in reruns and have personal associations with.
What feeling do you hope you art evokes?
VALDERAS: It’s always my hope that my work evokes a sense of history of who we are and how each of our own personal histories relate to each other in the context of cultural influences.
What is your artistic process?
VALDERAS: Ironically, it begins not in the studio, but when I venture out for my daily run in the neighborhood. As I pass by piles of old discarded wood from houses that have been gutted out, I stop to see if there’s anything I can salvage. I’m interested in giving new identity to old wood trims and moldings that have been dismantled and discarded despite all the history it holds. I then head to the studio to begin working and developing possible ideas.
How do you keep your art inspired?
VALDERAS: I’m inspired and motivated by other artists who I’m lucky to call my friends. It’s important to have a strong circle of talented people who can give feedback and discuss different approaches when it comes to art making.
What other artists do you enjoy?
VALDERAS: There are too many to name, but I do have a few artists that have left a lasting impression, such as Yoshua Okón and Luc Tuymans.
What made you decide to be a full-time artist?
VALDERAS: It’s the only thing I’m good at…
What hesitations did you experience when you became a full-time artist?
VALDERAS: After finishing my terminal degree, my only hesitation or fear was that I wouldn’t do anything remotely associated with art. The amount of sacrifice and self-investment, not to mention student loan debt, remains a driving force to succeed.
How important is it to market your work?
VALDERAS: Honestly, I’m not too keen about marketing my own work. Annette Lawrence, one of my mentors and who I consider the ultimate “Zen Master,” once told me, “All that matters is the work. If the work is good then opportunities will follow.”
How can people buy or see your art?
VALDERAS: Unfortunately, my solo show, “Soft Power” at Box 13 Art Space in Houston closed in August. Next week, I’m off to San Antonio for the Mid America College Art Association Conference, where I have been invited to make a presentation about my artwork along with other talented artists. Folks can always keep tabs on me through my website: giovannivalderas.com.