Published on August 7, 2018. Interview by 2018 Summer Intern, Emma Brodeur. Valencia Robin is a poet and painter living in Charlottesville, Virginia. Her poetry has been published in a number of literary journals and her paintings have been exhibited in galleries including Welcome Gallery as part of the 2018 Artist Exchange.
Valencia Robin is our third featured 2018 artist in our third 7x7x7 Series, which asks 7 questions to 7 Charlottesville artists and published once a week for 7 weeks.
1. If you had a free afternoon in Charlottesville what would you do or where would you go?
I'd go for a long walk with a friend, perhaps downtown along the river. Afterwards, it would be great to head to the Tea Bazaar for a slice of almond cake.
2. Describe your artistic work in 7 words.
Playful, layered, trying to start a conversation.
3. Who or what inspires your current work?
Poetry, music and film are all sources of inspiration. I’m a poet as well as a painter and it’s very satisfying to go back and forth between the two art forms. They're so different yet they both allow me to discover myself in ways that I couldn't otherwise.
4. Consider one piece you’re working on right now. Give us a snippet of your routine—from start to finish, what goes into making it?
Initially I just try to build up an interesting surface; then I try to paint something as uncontrived as possible. Typically my paintings have five or six earlier versions underneath them. It’s all about finding the right combination and balance. I switch between listening to music and podcasts and just try to get into a flow, to reach that point where the work finds its way and I can stop struggling and just paint.
5. What have you learned about yourself as a person through the experience of making art?
Art is the lens through which I view my life; almost all of my major decisions have revolved around my poetry and painting. So I guess what I’ve learned is that it’s what makes me who I am.
6. What would you like to see happen in Charlottesville to better support artists in our community?
I'm already impressed by Cville's embrace of its artists. I think it would be great if local art organizations pulled in more folks (artists as well as patrons) from historically oppressed communities.
7. What is currently on your studio/work desk?
I'm currently revising my first collection of poems, which will be published by Persea Books in April 2019. Otherwise, there are assorted books including a collection of poems by Layli Long Soldier and a book of paintings by Sister Gertrude Morgan.
Images courtesy of the artist.
The opinions expressed in this interview are solely those of the artist and do not necessarily represent the policies or positions of NCAI.
Valencia Robin is a poet, curator and former gallery manager who recently completed an MFA in poetry at the University of Virginia. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in TriQuarterly, Black Renaissance Noire, the Cortland Review and other literary journals. She is a Cave Canem Fellow and the 2014 winner of the Hocking Hills Poetry Festival Competition. Valencia Robin came to Charlottesville from Ann Arbor and has an MFA in art from the University of Michigan where she taught and held various arts-related positions.
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