Susan Valyi



"As a sculptor I am interested in the creation of new forms and the three dimensional, tactile pleasure of a finished work. I like exploring unconventional materials. My work is mostly figurative with a mix of human and animal form. I would say what pleases me most is the exploration of gesture and pose but then I will turn around and cannibalize a chair to make a temple.

My work starts with collecting. I'm currently working mostly with old chairs and furniture that is beyond repair and has been discarded by the side of the road. Or begged from friends. Some of my sculpture take to complete so where the discard was pretty instantaneous, the rescue and transformation is long and involved. More than anything, the disassembling and reassembling satisfies my soul. I think it's probably a very personal gratification. I'm addicted to process even at the risk that a piece doesn't work out. My materials are unforgiving in that I can't reshape easily but that's where the excitement lies. In not knowing how something will turn out. Each piece is different. There's always a challenge.

My sculptural process is one of addition, rather than subtraction. I build up forms by adding and then I grind away. It's a continuous, long and messy process that was born of an accident years ago.

I work from my sketches. I certainly leave room for accidents to happen in the studio but I like the sketching. I like to have a good idea where I'm going before I start a piece. I like working with old wood which already has it's stories to tell. I sometimes find the most interesting inscriptions on the undersides of old chairs. One of the chairs I cut up had 'Mammy's chair 1945' scrawled under the seat. The wood is old seasoned and always surprisingly rich when I add a finish of tung oil. It's a challenge to make shomething out of nothing. I believe artists are guided in part by their materials.

I studied at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and though I have joked that it has taken me thirty-odd years to recover from the experience, there is only a bit of truth to it. I think all the experiences we have as artists give us context and experience, although somewhere along the line I discovered the truth that I work alone in more ways than one. My art experience is solitary in terms of exchange but I continuously study art in a very pop culture kind of way. I devour art magazines and go to galleries whenever I can.

I don't know what kind of art I make. I work on a more emotional level and a base one at that. Sometimes my work makes me laugh. Sometimes it's the post that make the humour.

I've been asked to give lectures on humour in art and I'm quite fascinated with the subject. It's not something you can plan. And it's contrary to the perception that art has to be serious to be taken seriously. I work until I please myself and if I have an audience, all the better. Audience for me is very important. I'm interested in uncomplicated art that doesn't need a lot of explanation to understand.

I live for the times when a new idea is born. It's exciting. I'm also happy when the kinks in a piece have been worked out and I can just indulge in the process. I rented an old wood working shop this winter to accommodate much bigger pieces. As I go along I find myself surrounded by these creatures as they evolve and take shape. It's like a room full of inanimate company. I like it. You can visit my Facebook page to see the work in progress.

I was born in Vancouver, British Columbia and for a great part of my life I move frequently until settling near a small French town, St. Eugene, Ontario on the Quebec border. If that's not confusing."

Contributing Artist in These Exhibits