Austin Artist Talk with Valerie Fowler: Nature and Other Stories

Your work is very detailed and site-specific, do you work from photographs?

Valerie Fowler: No, but that’s the best part!


On a tightrope between real and surreal, Valerie Fowler balances the inherent energy found in nature and her own experiences within its time in space. A University of Texas graduate, where Fowler was first introduced to the medium of oil paints was just the beginning for the trajectory of her body of work. In college, she was inspired by the psychology of interpersonal space between two people. After graduation, she decided to build a family, creating a safe haven in her home to then cultivate a new series of work that would later define Fowler as an artist.


On Screens

Working from home, Fowler began painting atop custom screens. Her ideas came directly from the nature which surrounded her home in order to reflect and work through her deeply rooted emotions. Plants became symbols to represent the inner construct of her mind and life. This series showcases the ying-yang energy of nature, where life can also mean the death of another in a regenerative process of what cannot be controlled is then celebrated.


“I use the allegory of nature to show the ambiguity of beauty in humankind. There is, always, in my pieces, an element of sadness and wonder, at the beauty of things both evil and good.”

-Valerie Fowler


On Oil Paintings

Fowler combines her love of exploration in her hometown of Austin, Tx and paints pieces in response to her own experiences within its nature. She uses the energy of locations such as Blunn Creek to guide her brush around the surface. These works bring perspective to the nature in Austin and to Fowler as an artist on a deeper more personal level. Locations consist of an inherent history which she carefully considers when painting to capture the past and present intermingling with each other on the surface.


On Drawings

The act of drawing has a consistent tie throughout Fowlers’ body of work at the Dougherty Arts Center. Whether there was a pulmonary sketch for a painting, used atop of large-scale paper, or even smaller more experimental works. The small-scale works that are drawn and etched on top of clay surfaces provide both the past and present more physically than the paintings. By scraping away or adding watercolor and ink, Fowler depicts scenes from her neighborhood, giving the viewer insight to the beauty and sometimes uncomely sights of Austin.


Nature and Other Stories at the Dougherty Arts Center was Valerie Fowlers’ first solo show which encompassed twenty years of dedicated work. You can check out more of her work here.

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