VALERIE HAMMOND was born and raised in a small agricultural town in California. Not having access to cultural institutions such as museums, theaters and music halls, Hammond found herself taken with cultural objects that were a part of her surroundings, specifically icons and images from churches. She found the mystery in these objects captivating. As an adult, she continues to be inspired by these types of cultural phenomenon but has broadened her scope to include Buddhist and Hindu traditions and imagery.
As an artist, Hammond incorporates this imagery in a subtle way, ferns that substitute as veins in a human arm could also be read as Henna tattoos. A single flower placed in the center of a hand symbolizes the “third eye.” The interpretation of Hammond’s work need not be so literal. Outstretched arms from which a complicated maze of roots, beads, flowers, bugs and butterflies stretches to cover an entire six-foot sheet of paper can simply signify nature and the natural world.
But why hands? Hammond traces real people’s hands, using each one as a symbol of a unique story, just as each finger print signifies a unique individual, each pair of hands has it’s own story to tell; another reason for the use of hands. Before words were written, stories were spoken and gesture was a significant way of imparting meaning. Each set of hands Hammond draws represents a sort of meditation of one’s portrait, both their story and their own unique genetic coding.
2d. hands drawn on a sheet of paper, overlaid with natural world imagery and full of layers of symbolism, become object-like when encapsulated in encaustic, giving Hammond’s work a distinct other-worldly feel.