Valérie Walker’s Indigo Installation Aims to Change You for the Better
“A big part of decolonizing is changing your mindset, and sensorial stimulation changes your mind on levels you can’t even identify,” multidisciplinary artist, curator and ECU faculty member Valérie d. Walker tells me in September via video chat from her Vancouver studio.
When an idea is felt — not merely understood — something happens to a person, she continues.
“You change. And you carry that change with you. I do believe that. That’s part of the purpose of art, is to change you, and for the better if possible.”
Valérie’s reflection comes amid the reinstallation of her monumental immersive textile work, Indigo Reverberations, in the rotunda of the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG). The work appears as part of the VAG’s Vancouver Special: Disorientations and Echo exhibition, showing through January 2022.
Indigo Reverberations occupies the grand, winding space in stunning fashion, with 20-metre lengths of hand-woven cotton hanging a full three storeys from just beneath the rotunda’s dome and oculus to its marble floor. The august, undulating textiles all bear hand-shaped resist-dye patterns of natural indigo — one of Valérie’s longtime materials, which infuses the space with a musky aroma. Meanwhile, the cotton dampens sound in the notoriously echoey chamber, filling the space with an ambient hush reminiscent of running water.
Indigo Reverberations occupies the VAG’s rotunda in stunning fashion, with 20-metre lengths of hand-woven cotton hanging a full three storeys from just beneath the rotunda’s dome and oculus to its marble floor. (Image courtesy Valérie d. Walker)
But the experience hasn’t entirely been smooth sailing, she adds. At one point earlier this year, Valérie became very sick with COVID. Even after recovering, Valérie has continued to struggle with fatigue and joint pain, requiring her to lean more heavily on assistants than she normally would. She found strong support in Arlo Havixbeck, an artist and former student of Valérie’s, with whom she was connected via the Shumka Centre for Creative Entrepreneurship’s Art Apprenticeship Network program.
“Arlo is great,” Valérie says. “I needed somebody strong who wanted to work with me and wasn’t afraid to do a lot of physical work. Arlo was excited to work and to learn a lot of textile stuff, and they worked with me at the art gallery for close to five weeks.”
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