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Valerie Christell

Curator at the Arts and Cultures Gallery, Alverno College, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Sacred Ground

Sacred Ground.
Charcoal drawing.
22" x 15"

I chose to research Native American myths because of the use in my artwork of images from nature as metaphors for introspection and growth, and the energy in those processes. As I read, I recorded in a journal/sketchbook pieces of stories, and sketched images that appeared to me while I was reading.

Throughout the duration of the research, I worked in the journal/sketchbook, elaborating on and responding to the notes/sketches I had made. I also created charcoal drawings, and clay and mixed media sculpture, which derived from my notes, sketches, and drawings. One storytelling style I was fascinated by can be found in my artwork; that is, clearly presented images whose full intent is not immediately graspable. It is unearthed only by analysis of the underlying layers of intent. The examination of this type of story, along with those that included unexpected twists in final concepts, was a noteworthy part of this research.

Because process is important to me, I wanted to share my journal/sketchbook. But I realized that many notes about what I had researched and drawn were too personal to share. So I created a new journal which revisits the process. It randomly presents pages from the original workbook, images with visual twists added after the fact, works in process, and final drawings—accompanied by notes that connect them to my research.