Val Britton


My paintings and installations map physical locations and psychological spaces. Collage, drawing, painting, printing, and cutting paper have become my methods for navigating the blurry terrain of memory and imagination. An ongoing concern is how to push the language of abstraction in order to create a visceral sense of movement through space and an emotional impact.

Much of this work was initially inspired by my father, a mechanic and truck driver, and his loss when I was young. Based on road maps, routes he travelled, and an invented conglomeration and fragmentation of those passageways, these works helped me piece together the past and make up the parts I could not know.

The cartographic language has provided a rich territory of investigation. Maps provide a symbolic landscape, visually mimicking pathways and systems, akin to neural synapses and unseen networks, illuminating the spaces in between and giving tangible form to meditative experiences.

Creating imaginary landscapes that play with different aerial and terrestrial perspectives, my abstract landscapes conflate micro and macro, asking the viewer to locate themselves. Materially, this investigation into manipulating paper sculpturally has fed into large-scale installations and public commissions, exploding collages in space, a critical extension of my practice.


Val Britton creates immersive, collaged works on paper and site-specific installations that explore physical and psychological spaces. Her fragmented, exploded landscapes draw on the language of maps to explore memory, history, and the possibilities of abstraction. An award winning public artist with permanent commissions at San Francisco International Airport among others, Britton’s work is part of numerous collections, including the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, the Cleveland Clinic Fine Art Collection, de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University, Facebook Headquarters, the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts at the Legion of Honor San Francisco, Library of Congress, National September 11 Memorial & Museum, New-York Historical Society, New York Public Library Print Collection, and the San Jose Museum of Art.

Britton's work has been shown in over 65 solo and group exhibitions in museums, galleries, art fairs, universities, and non-profit institutions nationally and internationally. She is the recipient of many grants, fellowships, and residencies including a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant and the Fleishhacker Foundation Eureka Fellowship. Born in Livingston, New Jersey, Britton spent 14 years in San Francisco before relocating to the Pacific Northwest, where she now lives and works in Portland, Oregon. She received her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and her MFA from California College of Arts and Crafts.