Val Britton: Intimate Immensity
February 23 – May 18, 2013
An immersive site-specific installation of collaged works on paper that draws on the language of maps to create imaginary landscapes that depict physical and psychological spaces.
In July 2012 the ICA initiated Sandbox Projects, an exhibition program that provides opportunities for West Coast artists to create and exhibit experimental artworks in the ICA’s Focus Gallery. The Sandbox Projects encourages emerging and mid-career artists to experiment, take risks and develop works that would not otherwise be realized. The ICA put forth a call for proposals and assembled a curatorial committee, which reviewed 36 artist submissions and awarded the first Sandbox Projects commission to San Francisco-based artist Val Britton. Recipients are awarded an honorarium to design, create and complete their projects.
Val Britton: Intimate Immensity includes large-scale collage drawings and an ambitious installation with more than 400 fragments of paper the artist meticulously cut by hand. Responding to the architecture of the space, Britton constructed an exploding composition suspended from ceiling rafters, that provides an immersive experience for the viewer. Britton’s mixed media abstractions draw on the language of maps as it relates to physical, psychological, and emotional spaces. For Britton, mapping serves as a metaphor for searching and navigating through the known and the unknown.
According to the artist, much of her work is influenced by a longing to connect to her father, a cross-country truck driver who suddenly passed away when she was a teenager. Based on road maps of the United States, routes her father often traveled, and an invented conglomeration, fragmentation, and abstraction of those passageways, Britton’s works on paper help her to “sort through a geologic tangle of memories” and further imagine parts unknown.
Her exploration of space, abstraction, and mark making comes from countless hours of painting, cutting, gluing, and layering paper to create work of a sensitive and thought-provoking nature. A recent inspiration for Britton is the book Poetics of Space by French philosopher Gaston Bachelard. In addition to Bachelard describing his own experiences, he references various sources of literature that address the quality of space and one’s personal relationship to it. The book motivated Britton to contemplate and appreciate space more deeply and work within and around given space(s) to create more profound and enchanting art.
Britton was born in Livingston, New Jersey and attended Rhode Island School of Design where she received her BFA in 1999. She traveled across the country to attend California College of the Arts in San Francisco and in 2006 earned her MFA. She has received numerous awards and grants including the Pollack-Krasner Foundation grant in 2010, and has participated in several residencies and fellowships such as Recology in San Francisco, Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, and Ucross Foundation in Wyoming. In 2012 Britton was commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission to create a piece for the San Francisco International Airport.
She has exhibited her work in solo and group shows throughout the nation and will be included in an upcoming group exhibition at A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn, NY. Selected collections that include her work are the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, the New York Public Library, The New York Historical Society, and the Alameda County Art Collection in Oakland.