Valerie Crosswhite at work in the Atelier

Scholastic Awards winner and Atelier artist Valerie Crosswhite talks about her work.

With these paintings, I am exploring the playful, and sometimes, fantastic relationships we form with animals and our ideas of others in the spaces we create for ourselves.

I’m interested in events that occur when we are not looking—are they magical, naughty, quotidian, or something else?  I am inclined to think all of the above, but fantasize that the things that occur in these spaces are fundamentally different than when someone is looking.  Not that the furniture starts rearranging itself when we leave our apartments for the day, but more like a secret life: vibrant, yet imperceptible.

The transporting, exquisite beauty of nature can seem indulgent: the stripe on a tulip, is it strictly necessary?  I don’t know the answer, but it is abundantly clear that the stripe is good.

As an artist, I want to portray those imagined unseen moments, and the instances in life and nature of unbelievable strangeness and heart-crushing beauty.  Paint has its own inner life and messy loveliness; and experimenting with colors; patterns, and materials can be wonderfully satisfying.

The finished product—the painting—hopefully contains the rhizome of that indulgent dreaming, and despite all improbable fancy, a quality that rings true.


Valerie Crosswhite was born in Baltimore, Maryland and now lives and works in Manhattan. She received her BFA from the Cooper Union in 2002. In 2010 she went to Seoul, South Korea as an apexart Outbound Resident. She is a painter, and recently had an exhibition of her paintings shown in conjunction with the New York International Latino Film Festival. Her work deals with comic sexuality, giddy voyeurism, animal spirits, and life lessons. Check out more of her work at:

Have a question for Valerie or our other resident artists? Tweet it @artandwriting using #AWatelier.

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