Each week, The Cummer will be highlighting each of the 50 artists represented in the upcoming Folio Weekly Invitational Artist Exhibition, on view at the Museum from August 24 – December 2.
In 1987, Sharla Valeski moved to Jacksonville from Dallas, Texas. She enrolled at FCCJ (now Florida State College at Jacksonville) and later at Jacksonville University (JU) where she graduated magma cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art. From JU, Valeski adopted a philosophy that has fueled her art-making all these years. At the beginning of her career, the artist chose alternative spaces to show her art, although in 2001 she was included in the Women to Watch Exhibition at Alexander Brest Museum in Jacksonville. That changed in 2009 when Valeski participated in Art After Dark at the Florida Theater and the Bright Young Things exhibition at the Jane Gray Gallery. Shortly after, she opened a gallery/studio, The Next Gallery, being one of the first Off the Grid Galleries through Downtown Vision and The Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville. The Next Gallery became a great source of pleasure for Ms. Valeski as she experimented with window displays and the installation of art and objects she found locally and in her travels.
After two years of running The Next Gallery, Valeski happened upon the new CoRK Arts District in historic Riverside. She opened a studio in the first phase of the development. The shared gallery space in the building remains a source of inspiration for the artist and an opportunity to display her large scale soft sculptures. Ms. Valeski paints, draws, sews and builds installation pieces. She works mostly from childhood memories, dreams and her imagination. A new-found identity has emerged as she explores the idea of being feminine using methods, materials and imagery that are traditionally assigned to females. She lives in Atlantic beach with her husband, Brent and sons, Tom and Sen.