Even as she was finishing her architecture degree at the University of Kentucky, Valerie Fuchs knew that being an architect did not fit into her vision of her future.
“I love the process, I love figuring things out, I love making things –– but I don’t like being an architect,” she said.
Throughout college, Fuchs spent her spare time making art; after graduating and being hired as an architectural designer for Louisville’s Bravura Corp., she spent her time off drawing and admiring sculpture and other art at the Louisville Speed Museum. While taking an evening film class, she had a revelatory moment –– a mental fusion of sculpture and video occurred to her.
“I had one of those moments where you go ‘oh, that’s it,’” she said. She left her architecture job to pursue her Master’s in Fine Arts from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago.
For the Acoustic Landscape exhibit, vinyl digital stills of a video Fuchs made were installed outside Louisville's Kentucky Center for the Arts.
Today, Fuchs is an established new media artist, teaching at the Kentucky School of Art at Spalding University and exhibiting her work regularly. Her primary medium is digital cinematography, which she manipulates in different ways to tailor to specific venues and audience experiences. In perhaps her largest-scale work, commissioned by 21C museum curator Alice Gray Stites, 36-foot-tall vinyl panels displaying a digital still from one of Fuchs’ videos were installed on the front of the prominent downtown Louisville Kentucky Center for the Arts building. Some of her smallest pieces are projected from handheld Pico projectors onto the palm of an audience member’s hand.
Fuchs explores a variety of existential themes in her work, including the juxtaposition between a love of nature and a simultaneous (and often opposing) love of technology –– a conflict she grapples with constantly in what she calls an “infinitely reflective process.”
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Detail from Fuchs' Blue Series.
“I’m always thinking about how much we don’t have a relationship with the land that we’re right in front of,” said Fuchs. “Like Wendell Berry says, you have to live in it –– you have to have a long history. You have to have a name for that back field. You have to have an emotional relationship with it to care for it.”
Fuchs’ home studio, designed and built by her architect husband, provides her with inspirational views of their Shelby County land (the couple recently relocated from Lexington to Shelby County with their children); she hikes almost daily in the surrounding hills and valley, often with a video camera in hand. In many ways, her art is a way for her to develop and express her emotional relationship with the land that inspires her so deeply. She shares that experience with her audience in works that are often interactive, such as her forthcoming group exhibit at the Loudoun House, part of the Lexington Art League’s multi-faceted exhibition light-based exhibition Luminosity.
As to what she hopes the audience will feel when they experience her work?
“I want them to feel what I’m feeling,” she said. “I know that when I’m fascinated with something, sometimes other people are too.”
Q&A with New Media Artist Valerie Fuchs