Valerie Atkisson is an adroit painter, sculptor, and multimedia artist. She often returns to family history themes in her work and she explains, “I wanted to bring life into the raw, vital information that you get from genealogical research.” Atkinsson’s work can be found everywhere from Ancestry magazine to Judaica.com and has been shown at numerous museums and galleries all over the country. She obtained a BFA from BYU and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She lives in Utah.
Describe your art. I’m a conceptual artist. The idea is paramount and determines the media of the piece as well as size and scope. I have used vellum, rice papers, paperclips, all types of paint and drawing media in my work. The prominent theme of my work over the past 20 years has been family history. I’ve found that some ways are better than others to tell a particular story.
You have traveled extensively in life. What unites the Church across cultures and countries? The belief that this is the restored Church of Jesus Christ.
What have you learned about your own family history as your delve into these projects? The purpose of delving into these projects exactly that: to learn about and to understand my ancestors better. I’ve learned that no one had it better than another. Everybody no matter what time or generation had severe backbreaking and or mentally breaking challenges. They did their best. We may not be able to understand the decisions they made, but looking deeper into the context of the time and their personal history we can understand more clearly. We will never be in their shoes though, so judging them is fruitless. They are interested in us – their posterity. They are pulling (and praying – I believe) for us. They want to be remembered. It does them good and it does us good I don’t know exactly how, but it does.