Shalene Valenzuela was born in Santa Barbara, California. She received a BA in Art Practice at the University of California at Berkeley and an MFA in Ceramics from California College of Arts and Crafts. In 2007, she moved from her longtime home of Oakland, CA to participate in a long-term residency at The Clay Studio of Missoula. She currently maintains a studio in the historic Brunswick Building in downtown Missoula and is the executive director at the Clay Studio of Missoula.
Additionally, Shalene has participated in summer artist residencies at the Archie Bray Foundation (2006) and Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts (2004, 2011). She has taught at Flathead Valley Community College, University of Montana, Oregon College of Art and Craft, The Clay Studio of Missoula, Missoula Art Museum, Richmond Art Center, ASUC Studios at UC Berkeley, and CCA Extended Education. Shalene has been a guest artist and speaker at a number of art centers, colleges, and universities. Her work has been featured in several group and solo exhibitions nationally and is included in numerous private collections. She was the recipient of the Jessie Wilber and Frances Senska Individual Artist’s Innovation Award from the Montana Arts Council in 2013.
“My ceramic sculptures reflect upon a variety of issues with a thoughtful, yet humorous and ironic tone. I am inspired by the potential of everyday common objects. I reproduce these objects primarily through slipcasting, and illustrate the surfaces with a variety of handpainted and screenprinted imagery. My narratives explore topics ranging from fairytales, urban mythologies, consumer culture, societal expectations, etiquette, and coming-of-age issues. Stylistically, much of my imagery is pulled from somewhat “dated” sources that I find represent an idealized time in society and advertising. Such gems include instructional guides, cookbooks, old advertisements, and old family photos. Beneath the shiny veneer of these relics hides a complex and sometimes contradicting truth of what things seem to appear as upon first glance.”