September’s Member of the Month – Valerie Hodder

Valerie Hodder is an artist and art educator. She currently serves on the Board of VANL-CARFAC, as well as its Finance and Planning and Human Resources Committees.

1. When did you first realize that you wanted to become an artist?

My parents were creative people. Dad drew cartoon figures for us as kids for entertainment. Mom was a teacher and a quilter and made our clothes out of bargain fabric or by recutting old clothing. They were the original recyclers. We made toys to play with out of egg cartons, magazines, foil wrap and cardboard boxes. Dad worked at the paper mill in Corner Brook, so we always had paper! My sister and brother both draw. My sister continues to paint. My Dad and brother played guitar and wrote their own songs. We were always encouraged in our explorations. There was no such thing as wanting to “become” an artist. Art was just a natural part of life. I just made it take up larger parts of my life.

2.     What mediums do you work in and why?

Being an art educator, you tend to work in everything, at first, so you can know a little about everything and at least give your students a place to start their own personal explorations. I studied photography and printmaking for the first 2 years at NSCAD. Then the painting bug hit me. I worked in oil until, many years later, the solvents began to become a problem physically. I reluctantly moved to fluid acrylics, only to have my ideas about it changed by the flexibility of the new acrylics, which led to mixed media. And mixed media is probably where I will stay, as it opens up so many opportunities to explore and play. And I do love to play…to maintain that childlike wonder about art, the art media, and life.

3.     How do you get ideas for your artwork?

I call what I do figurative narrative. Like most Newfoundlanders, I like to tell stories about people and places.

4.     What other artists influence your artwork?

Klimt, because of his lush use of color and patterning, as well as his obvious love of the human form. Georgia O’Keefe for being a pioneer in so many aspects of being a strong, female artist in North America. And then there are the surrealists…

5.     What are the ‘big’ themes in your artwork?

The emotional journey of life.

6.     What is the greatest challenge you face as an artist working in Newfoundland and Labrador?

Finding places to exhibit provincially.

7.     What is the best thing about working as an artist in this province?

Having a studio overlooking the ocean, surrounded by woods and a little bubbling brook – the sounds, the smells, the wildlife dropping by the door! As well as the ability to be able to get to know so many other wonderful people who continue to live and work as artists here, and the artists who come from away and stay because they “get” why we stay.

8.     Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Continuing to stretch my own boundaries, both in life and in my artwork.

9.     If you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing?

I’m an art educator and a visual artist. I’d still be a teacher…maybe English. Seeing people grow from the inside out has always been a particular joy of mine.

10.  If you could have one wish granted, what would it be?

I wish that it were easier to be a working artist in this province without having to worry about affording supplies over basic necessities. That’s a harsh reality for so many talented and passionate people in this “beautiful, terrible place”.