Interview With an Artist — Valerie Rose
This month, we sat down with Carbondale-based muralist Valerie Rose. Val is the artist behind the “Wolf Will Reappear” mural at the Museum of Boulder, where the “Living with Wolves” photo exhibit launched earlier this month. The mural took over 20 hours to complete and Val captured the process through a time-lapse video.
We asked Val about her background, her interest in wolves and why she wants to see this iconic species back in Colorado.
Your art speaks to our relationship with nature. How did you decide to pursue that theme?
I started painting murals in June 2016, a few months after I moved to Nicaragua. I left a corporate office job and was delivering food in downtown Los Angeles, looking for a new path in life. I had to move to another country to find that answer. It changed my life, and since then I have painted 28 walls.
I met my boyfriend, Lee, in Nicaragua. He is from the states as well, and we both decided to move back to the U.S. Colorado had some family, a job for him, and I could go anywhere as long as I could make my art and paint murals. Lee got the book American Wolf for Christmas last year, and I read it. I remembered that I really enjoyed writing about the wolves being reintroduced to Yellowstone. (I was a Geography and Environmental Studies Major at UCLA.) And coincidentally, the day that I finished that book, Mike Phillips was doing a talk in Aspen about reintroducing wolves to Colorado. I introduced myself to Mike, and he connected me to RMWP.
I wanted to help RMWP in the most useful and enjoyable way and decided that I have to merge my artistic talents with my environmental pursuits. Since then, I have made a few wolf art illustrations, I started a mini handmade magazine called "Wolf Zine," and I painted a mural at The Museum of Boulder. The mural has been my most recent work and was painted in conjunction with "The Living with Wolves" exhibit, a photography exhibit by Jim and Jaime Dutcher.
Where did the idea for this mural come from?
The idea for this mural came from a few places. I drew out some illustrated images on paper and stitched them together to make this one mural design. The huge wolf face in the design is basically half of a face. The drawing can either be seen as a disappearing animal or reappearing animal. They belong in Colorado, but they are not here. Humans have to make a choice, and it can go either way. I chose to title the illustration "Wolf Will Reappear." I wanted to manifest a positive outcome with my title. The other parts of the mural design are simply inspired by the exhibit itself. In the LWW exhibit, we can learn so much about wolves, from their pack behavior to their dynamic individual personalities.
Why do you want to see wolves back in Colorado?
I want to see wolves back in Colorado because I believe that they belong here. I see the benefits of having the wolf and can understand the scientific data that shows that, but I also believe that it is the right thing to do.
I think my illustrations and magazine were fun to make, but I really believe that murals are the most important way for me to reach the public. I would love to paint more wolf murals around the state of Colorado. Murals are the best way to raise awareness about an issue. If I could get someone to look at my painting and then go check out the RMWP website, then I have done my job. Murals are also great because they are huge pieces of art that the community gets to have. The cherry on top is that I really would enjoy painting a mural for a cause I care about. I do not get to take the wall home with me, only the experience of painting on it. I want to fill my life with positive and enjoyable experiences.
Want to support the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project and Help bring the gray wolf home? Contribute today!
Quick plug: Val is looking for new wall space! if you are a Colorado business and have a wall that you would like to donate for a mural, please contact Val through her website.