Valerie Hird

VALERIE HIRD graduated with a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from Vermont College.

Hird is a Vermonter with creative ties to the people and countries of the Middle East and Central Asia where she has worked and traveled for 25 years. Her work explores cultural mythologies and the roles they play in Eastern and Western societies.

Although her primary media are oil and watercolor painting, she also works in drawing, printmaking, video and artist books. The Nohra Haime Gallery at 730 Fifth Avenue, New York City, has been her primary representation for the past twenty years and has been responsible for her US and international exhibitions. Hird has also participated recently in a number of exhibitions including the Center for Book Arts in Manhattan, MASSMoCA, Portsmouth Museum, and the Tampa Art Museum. She is also represented by the Lucky Street Gallery in Key West, Florida.

Hird’s first decade’s travel and study of semi-nomadic societies and their iconic visual language resulted in 1999 in a nationally touring exhibition: ‘Nomadic Connections’ which premiered in Vermont at the Helen Day Art Center, 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.

Another ten years were devoted to the icons of Western culture, specifically our cyclical – and sometimes humorous - 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, and the video ‘Everybody Wants To Be a Superhero', exhibited by the Nohra Haime Gallery at FIAC and DIVA in Paris, Bridge Art Fair in London and Art Basel Miami.

In 2007 Hird returned to the Middle East where she created The Maiden Voyages Project – an extensive series of her sequential drawings illustrating the written diaries of individual women from Jordan, Iran, Egypt and the Palestinian West Bank, and exploring their cultural differences. The project, animated for the internet, also inspired a series of presentations and lectures at the University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan; South Florida University, Panama Campus; and Rhode Island School of Design. The original artwork for the project premiered in Vermont at the Tarrant Gallery of the Flynn Center in 2009 and has recently been exhibited along with updated interviews with the participants, at The Center for Book Arts in Manhattan in 2013.

Starting in 2010, Hird's exploration of cultural mythologies then led to a series of paintings, books and videos describing a new creation mythology. Based on her travel and study with indigenous peoples from the Berbers of Northern Africa to the Inuit of the Pacific Northwest, she has blended a vast panoply of creation stories into her own unique cosmological narrative. The first exhibition in the series, entitled 'The Fifth Day', premiered in New York in 2012; and portrayed the emergence of an uninhabited and complex primal world.

Subsequent bodies of work focus on origination stories starting with the Convocation Of Birds. The series – begun during a residency at the The Studios of Key West, FL in 2013 and presented as illuminated watercolor scrolls - explores this wonderful species as metaphors for the elements of earth, sea, sky and fire. Accompanying the paintings is a large-scale primordial tree installation made from several thousand small origami forms. Hird’s intent is to  visually demonstrate the delicate and complex interconnection of the natural systems. The canopy blossoms at its edges into unique elemental birds.

The United Nations Art in Embassies program has twice acquired Hird’s work for their embassies in Turkey and Chile. 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 for fourteen years. Hird also conducts workshops for the Art Student’s League in New York. Her teaching emphasis is on visual narrative as a medium for cultural exchange.

Awards and grants include several Vermont Arts Council fellowships, residency at The Studios of Key West, Vermont Community Foundation, the 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, and RISD Magazine

RESUME (pdf)