Artist: Sandra Mack-Valencia
I grew up surrounded by the smell of oil paint, turpentine and linseed oil. I was taught to look beyond the basic colors and search for the subtle tones. A leaf was not just green; it could be yellow-green, red-green, or brown-green. This is how my father taught me to look at the world, and until today this is how I perceive it. I like to believe that I was born an artist; that it is my fate and that no matter what I do, I cannot deny it.
I believe that there is a range of ways to approach a piece of art: From a strictly rational point of view, where we look for the signified, asking for answers or explanations, to a more emotional one that comes through sensations, with nothing to explain or understand, nothing to be interpreted, just open to the intensities that emanate from the work. My drawings should not be placed in either category, since they move back and forth between these two worlds. It took me a few years to realize that besides political, social or moralizing work, it was also possible to make art with a strong aesthetic component, work that obeys impulses and sensations. It is not senseless, since it comes from a process of thought like every creative act; but instead of trying to illustrate a concept or idea, it is the idea, it is the concept that comes through the hand in the form of a stroke, a color, a drip, a smudge.
Sandra Mack-Valencia grew up in Colombia, where under the smell of oil paint, turpentine and linseed oil in her father’s studio, she developed a passion for the arts, in particular for painting and drawing. When she turned 16, her gift was the registration at the Escuela de Arte Eladio Velez, a local art school in Sandra’s neighborhood. Sandra received her BFA from the Universidad de Antioquia in 2000, and during her last year of college she collaborated with the Museum of Modern Art in Medellin, the Casa-Museo Pedro Nel Gomez and the Cultural Ministry in the development of an art database. She moved to New York in 2000 and finished her MFA at Hunter College in 2007. Sandra’s work has been exhibited since 1999 in museums and institutions in Colombia, New York, and Japan. She received the Nathalie Angles Award in 2007, the Sommerville Arts Prize in 2008, and was nominated for the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant in 2009.