Valerie Hird

VALERIE HIRD graduated with a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from Vermont College. The Nohra Haime Gallery at 500 West 21st Street, New York City, has been her primary representation for the past twenty-six years and has been responsible for her US and international exhibitions.

Hird, a Vermont native, has close creative ties to the people and countries of the Middle East and Central Asia where she has worked and traveled for 30 years. Her work explores cultural mythologies and the roles they play in our societal perceptions of each other. Hird has spent years moving across cultures listening and collecting stories. She’s fascinated by the way they evolve, penetrating humanity’s psychic core and map our ever-evolving consciousness.

Hird began traveling with semi-nomadic tribes in the rural parts of the Middle East and Central Asia in the late 80’s. Her study of mobile societies and their iconic visual language resulted in a nationally touring exhibition: ‘Nomadic Connections’ which premiered in 1999 at the Helen Day Art Center in Vermont, and traveled to San Francisco’s Peter Pap Gallery before being presented in New York at the Museum of the School for the Visual Arts in 2001.

The following years were devoted to the mythologies of Western culture, specifically our cyclical – and sometimes obsessive - fascination with the superhero. This prolific period resulted in the solo exhibitions entitled ‘Cycles of Faith – Cycles of Fiction’, ‘Myths Now and Then’, ‘Everybody Wants To Be a Superhero’, and ‘Hero Worship’, as well as the artist books Towers of Babel, Mindlines, and A Consumer's Guide to Religion. The video ‘Everybody Wants To Be a Superhero', was exhibited by the Nohra Haime Gallery at FIAC and DIVA in Paris, Bridge Art Fair in London and Art Basel Miami and the Tampa Art Museum in Florida.

In 2007 Hird returned to the Middle East where she created The Maiden Voyages Project – a collaboration exploring cultural differences among women from Jordan, Iran, Egypt and the Palestinian West Bank. Their written diaries were translated by Hird into an extensive series of sequential drawings. The images were then animated and uploaded to the Internet. The project inspired a series of presentations, lectures and exhibitions both in the US and abroad. Presentations included: Maiden Voyages, University of Jordan, Drawing In the Middle East, American University Dubai, Visual Language, CTL Conference 3, Florence, Italy and Center For Book Arts, NY, NY. Exhibitions included: Global Center For Drawing, North Melbourne, Australia; Digital Checkpoints: FLEEF, on-line Digital Film Festival and Center For Book Arts, NY, NY.

Throughout the decades Hird has listened and documented the stories we tell – both ancient and contemporary, embracing fact and fiction. For the last eight years she has sifted and blended those stories to create an alternative mythology in line with the origin stories of animist, agrarian societies. Using a wide range of media, Hird blends her distinctive patterns and gestures to create a unique narrative. Her first installment was a series of large-scale painted scrolls entitled 'The Fifth Day'. Premiering in New York in 2012, it portrayed the emergence of an uninhabited and complex primal world. The second exhibition, ‘Origination’ continued the dialogue describing the interconnections between primary elements. It opened in New York and Cartagena, Colombia in 2014. In 2015- 16 Hird created two versions of a large primordial tree, The Genesis Tree’. Each version contained three-thousand individually-folded origami forms whose helix-shaped trunk referenced DNA and its canopy blossomed into unique birds representing the full diversity of life. The first tree exhibited in 2015 at the MCLA Gallery in MA and at ArtPrize in MI. The second much larger version was a crowd-sourced international outreach project representing diverse age groups, artists, teachers, museums, hospitals and research groups from 28 cities, 11 US states and 8 countries, exhibited in 2016 in New York.
Hird has participated in a number of exhibitions including the Center for Book Arts in Manhattan, MASSMoCA, Portsmouth Museum, The Monmouth Museum and the Tampa Art Museum. The United Nations Art in Embassies program has three times acquired Hird’s work for their embassies in Turkey, Chile and Cuba. Other collections include the US State Department, Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Fleming Museum, and Standard Charter Bank.

Hird is at present an adjunct professor of art at Saint Michael's College in Colchester, Vermont where she has taught drawing since 2000. She also lectured at Champlain College in Burlington Vermont. Teaching in their CORE program, she continued her exploration of image-based linguistics. Hird also conducts workshops for the Art Student’s League in New York. Awards and grants include several Vermont Arts Council fellowships, residency at The Studios of Key West, Vermont Community Foundation, and the Orton Foundation.
Over the years Hird has established an extensive bibliography.  Articles and reviews of her work have appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker, Art New England, Jordan Times, Gallery & Studio, Studio International, and RISD Magazine.

RESUME (pdf)