Val Britton

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UNTITLED, ART San Francisco

January 16—19, 2020

VIP and Press Preview: Thursday, January 16, 2-8 pm

Pier 35 / 1454 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, California

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The Sheltering Sky

January 19—April 7, 2019
Opening Celebration: January 25, 2019, 7-10 pm

Palo Alto Art Center / 1313 Newell Road, Palo Alto, California

“A black star appears, a point of darkness in the night sky's clarity. Point of darkness and gateway to repose. Reach out, pierce the fine fabric of the sheltering sky, take repose.” ― Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky

Taking its title from the iconic novel by Paul Bowles, this exhibition looks to the stars for comfort in the darkest of times. Our connection with, and attention to, the abstract concept we call the “sky” is binding, and contemplating its many facets provide rich subject matter for artists. This exhibition will explore a variety of artistic responses through works in a wide range of media.

The origins of the word “sky” are various and many. In Old Norse it was the word for cloud; in Old High German it comes from the words for shadow and mirror; in Middle English, it can mean heaven. These definitions reflect the mutability of the sky itself; it is the true and original shapeshifter, never static, always evolving, a storyboard onto which we project ourselves and our mythologies, and from which we gather information about our possible futures.

While the human stature may be small in comparison to the vastness of the atmosphere above and around us, we are inexorably linked to it, creating it and being created by it in every moment. We are burning, evaporating, decomposing, and breathing ― the results of which are taken up into the heavens and retuned to us as magnificent sunsets, roiling clouds, and acidic rain. Extreme weather events pound the planet; hurricanes, volcanic ash, flooding and drought all draw our gaze upwards. Yet no matter how surreal, how political, how dangerous it is, we still look to the sky for solace, and there is nothing like it to bring us back to earth.

In conjunction with our exhibition in the main gallery, we are presenting a new, site-specific installation by Val Britton. Her immersive work suggests fragmented, exploded landscapes, or in this case skyscapes. Britton received her MFA from California College of the Arts. She is the recipient of numerous grants, fellowships, and residencies and her work is included in many prominent collections across the country. She currently lives in Seattle, WA.

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The Shape of Change

April 10 - 14, 2018 

1275 Minnesota Street / Atrium, San Francisco, California

In honor of Equal Pay Day 2018, Gallery Wendi Norris has partnered with Hired, a job marketplace that matches tech talent with the world’s most innovative companies, to present a curated project that will foster creative problem solving and dialogue around wage inequality.

The Shape of Change presents a commissioned body of work by artist Val Britton, curated in direct response to Hired’s 2018 Women, Work, and the State of Wage Inequality Report, which calculates current trends in tech salaries, particularly highlighting the wage gap between men and women in the field, as well as gaps across race, sexuality and age.

The installation will transform the atrium with two mixed media paintings on paper and a sculptural installation made up of cut paper and string. The work stems from Britton’s interpretation of the statistical analyses which become transmuted into visual elements, i.e. shapes, forms, and colors. She extracts ratios and statistics from the report to be converted into concrete masses. These abstract, geometric visual elements are imbued with Hired’s report data, yet remain open for audiences to explore a multitude of potential meanings.

Britton creates a material representation of the state of wage inequality to be corporeally understood and acknowledged. Her work allows the data to take shape and occupy space, engaging the viewer’s visceral response in hopes of changing the way we move through our current socio-economic environment.

Val Britton is a charter resident of the Artist Studio Program at Minnesota Street Project.

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