An Oral History with jina valentine, MFA '09

jina valentine in her studio, Chicago, IL. Photo by Jonathan Michael Castillo.

For visual artist and professor jina valentine, a sense of place is closely tied with the imperative to build community. Having experienced several relocations, first as a student and later as an academic, valentine has met this requirement by developing systems of support and works of collaboration several times over and using a myriad of tactics. These strategies have included co-founding Black Lunch Table, an organization focused on Black artists and legacy; teaching inside and outside the university system; and considering parenthood as slow sculpture. Transdisciplinary artist and educator Kelly Lloyd joins valentine as her interviewer. Bringing these practitioners together offers a salient portrait of the artist as community member. While traversing the landmarks of valentine’s journey, this conversation interrogates the tensions that have presented themselves throughout her career: material/ephemeral, potential/limitation, confidence/doubt, impulse/regret. In this revealing, wide-ranging exchange, the two artists examine the value of mentorship as a vital intervention, explore how to cultivate anchors as a matter of praxis, and explain why the concept of “work” should be called something else.

—Andrea L. Battleground, OHP Producer

One of my advisors, Stephen Goldstine—photographer, artist, advisor, former dean at CCA, former director of a charter school in San Francisco—said to me, “You really don’t seem happy here. You should probably go to Stanford. Let me introduce you to my dear friend Gail Wight. You should talk to her.” So, I applied that winter and ended up at Stanford, which felt much more aligned with what my needs were, which was basically space to make and time to think. I had a massive studio in a very small department. There are ten people in the entire graduate program. Everybody—grads and faculty—has a studio in the quad, and you see them every day. Stanford provided things that I had suspected I needed, like the potential for conversations and collaboration with folx in other disciplines.

Click here to read the full interview.