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I was completely unaware of Valerie Hammond’s work until recently, when my boss brought a few pieces back from a trip to New York. We sat at the work table at the store/gallery and opened the box together. (She hadn’t seen these pieces yet either.) They took my breath away. I promise it’s true. We both just stared for over ten minutes, inviting customers over for the occasional sneak peek.

Hammond’s pieces (at least the ones I have seen) are delicate and beautiful in the very best sense of the words. (I am always hesitant to use words like “delicate” and “beautiful” to describe the work of women artists, since in the past they were often used in a demeaning way.) Her process involves printing, beading/ stitching and wax. I am sure there is thin paper in between layers of wax to help strengthen everything, but they look very translucent, like pale skin that barely conceals the workings of the blood and veins below it. The beads (and in some cases sequins) add a touch of sparkle that brings everything to life, even further. Although I knew Hammond uses printing to create these works, looking at them for the first time I was convinced that there were real ferns trapped between the layers of wax, forever green and new.

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At the end of January, we will have an exhibition showcasing work by Hammond and Kiki Smith (who is also great). I can’t wait to see all of the pieces together on the wall… In my job at the store/gallery, I do some curatorial work, mostly in conjunction with my bosses or manager. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to help set up an exhibition of work by artists as talented as Valerie Hammond and Kiki Smith.

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