Valerie Hegarty didn’t planned to be an artist, but we are glad she did so we can appreciate the fruits of her imagination. Valery created intriguing art pieces that will surprise you. We are very glad that she agreed to this exclusive interview about her unique sculptures. Find more about the artist and her inspiration below.
How and why did you get into the Artistic Industry? Where did you study, etc?
I didn’t plan on getting into the artistic industry when I went to college. I ended up taking an art class my junior year in college and switched my major to art. I studied for my BA at Middlebury College in Vermont. Then I got a BFA in Illustration at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco and worked for several years illustrating articles in newspapers and magazines. I decided I just wanted to make my own work and eventually got an MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I moved to New York after that and applied to every opportunity for a residency or group show. People started to see my work and eventually a gallery approached me to do a solo show and then represented me. I spent the past ten years selling my work at galleries and sometimes working part-time jobs to make ends meet. Now I am teaching too.
How would you describe your art style? How varied are your creations? Do you have a signature touch with it?
I’d describe my style as experimental and subversive. There are large variations between some works and sometimes I do several pieces that are using a similar idea. If I were to describe a signature touch with my work, it would be that it looks like it is decaying.
What do you love about being an artist?
I love the community of artists I am friends with that I met through residencies and shows. I love making the work and living a creative life.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I get my inspiration from my daily life, observations in nature, current news stories including climate change, American art history, and art history in general.
Meet more artistic paintings HERE!
What are some of your most popular creations? Tell us a bit about some of your works and what you love about them. What’s your favorite and why? Two popular works are Melted George Washington and Watermelon Tongue. Watermelon Tongue might be my favorite right now because of its fantastical quality and sense of humor.
In Melted George Washington, I wanted to make it look like half his face was melting. George Washington is an icon of American identity and the idea is to highlight that American identity is formed by many actions and policies, some of which are unseemly. This piece also references the Oscar Wilde short story called “The Portrait of Dorian Gray”. In the story a beautiful young man has his portrait painted and then sells his soul so he can stay young and beautiful forever. The man engages in criminal activity and eventually it is discovered that the portrait decays and deforms every time the man commits an illegal act.
Before I made Watermelon Tongue, I was actually making paintings of watermelons that looked like they were decaying. I like how watermelons are very “bodily” especially how they look smashed. So I was googling “exploding watermelons” to get images to make paintings from as there are many postings of watermelons that people throw out windows, or throw on the ground. When I was doing this google search, I came across the exploding watermelon news articles where crops and Mexico and China had been exploding due to being sprayed with the wrong growth hormone and the insides grew faster than the outside, I played with images in Photoshop where I was stretching the insides. In one Photoshop sketch, the form started to look like a tongue and I liked the surrealistic aspect of the form. Also the idea that the watermelon was sticking out its tongue, as if to say “F* You for messing with nature!”
Is there anything exciting that you are working on at the moment that you can tell us about?
I am just experimenting right now in the studio and I am The Artist in Residence at Drew University in New Jersey this academic year. So I am working with students and will co-teach a class with a Geographer next semester on Art and the Environmental Crisis. I am also preparing to make a new installation at Friedman Benda gallery in Chelsea in a few weeks for a group show titled “Apocryphal Times”
What are your professional dreams/goals?
To continue to work with students at a college while making my work and showing in Museums and galleries.
Describe yourself in three words.
Observant, Humorous, Generous
Find even more works from the artist HERE!