The urban jungle is home to a host of artistic materials for the sculptor with the right eye and expertise. Instead of marble or clay, Laurence Vallières scours the streets for used cardboard boxes to complete her menagerie of animals. Layering each piece of scrap, she creates the bodies of her subjects, leaving labels and markings visible. Using the animals as symbols of political and social behavior, she strives to inject a sense of humor and surprise into her work.
Drawing upon the writings of George Orwell and comics of Art Spiegelman, Vallières takes uses metaphor to critique a philosophy without the explicit use of anger. Her beasts sit around tables, attack overturned cars, and peer out from walls as seemingly sentient trophies.
She says of her work: “I create art that maintains both visual appeal and an understated sense of humor. I want the meaning of my pieces to both capture the eye of the viewer initially and leave them with something to consider long after they’ve left. I sculpt monkeys, elephants and rhinoceroses, thinking about their human correspondents or the ideologies they represent.”
Vallières maintains a fascination of urban development and street art. By manipulating the detritus of the city to resemble the natural, she completes the cycle of decomposition and creation. Tearing apart boxes, she breaks down rubbish and reforms it into valuable sculptures fit for a gallery. Recently, she has been interested in the idea of installation and the relationship between artwork, architecture, and place.
“I started to take my sculptures outside, installing them in the city where they belong. As my work is heavily influenced by political philosophy and criticism, I decided that public spaces would maximize my ability to reach my audience and make them consider the themes behind my work. Additionally, I became interested in exploring the juxtaposition of an artwork in an unexpected environment and the reaction it creates.”
From boxes salvaged from the trash and reformed as creatures, the sculptures return home.