Valerie Gudell, Texas Sculpture Group
After moving to Houston, TX a bit later in life, I began studying ceramic sculpture and pottery with June Woest at Urban Artists Studio. June encouraged me in my quest to make all things creature-like, while also teaching me the basic principles of sculptural structure. During this time, I also started to learn about assemblage art and vinyl toy customization, which I eventually merged together for some of my new pieces later on.
A good portion of my current work consists of three-dimensional Steampunk assemblages, typically miniature in size. These assemblages incorporate rare and unusual vinyl figures, as well as vintage toy cars and other recycled objects. They are comprised of both new and found items, such as vintage clock and watch parts, vintage jewelry and jewelry castings, brass and copper hardware, wood, leather, semi-precious gemstones, vintage coins and transit tokens, and glass taxidermy eyes.
What is Steampunk? Put your goggles on and think back to the Victorian Era in England (1837-1901), add some H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, and the fact that everything is powered by steam. While constructing my pieces, I imagine that they are powered by a combination of technical elements (gears, wind-up keys, propellers) as well as elements of nature (flowers, animals, gemstones). They often contain vents and exhaust pipes for their steam to escape. I spend a great deal of time aging the vinyl and wood to look like oxidized metal.
Creating these assemblages gives me a chance to explore my imagination and creativity. I enjoy experimenting with different textures, combining a variety of new and found objects, as well as developing distinct personalities and background stories for each of my pieces.
Valerie Gudell, 3D mixed media artist, was born in NYC. She currently lives and works in Houston, TX, where she creates assemblage art and polymer clay creatures with unique and sometimes complex personalities. Her main artistic influences include the Steampunk genre, Asian culture, and street art.
Valerie began her art career studying ceramic sculpture and pottery with June Woest at Urban Artists Studio in Houston. Around the same time, she was introduced to vinyl toy customization and assemblage art, and utilized her background in sculpture to create new work combining these two processes.
During the past few years, Valerie has shown her work at the Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles), d’Art Center (Norfolk, VA), and at KCAM, the Katy Contemporary Art Museum (Katy, TX). She has shown her work in the Houston area at Winter Street Studios, Hardy & Nance Studios, Texas Art Asylum and the First Saturday Arts Market. Her work has also been featured in the Houston Press, Culturemap, The Leader, the LA Beat, and the OC Register, among others.