2017 DUMA Biennial artist, Valerie Mangion

Valerie Mangion, Muscoda, Wisconsin
Giraffe Deer, 2015, oil, 12×16

I am a smallish, curly-haired, ageing insomniac as well as an artist, writer, vegetarian, activist, and animal lover. I live on a farm in the Driftless region of Southwest Wisconsin with my husband, a cat, a dog, and a horse. We have lost five members of our elderly animal family in the past year and a half, so life seems a bit empty these days.

At least I have more time to paint, when not at my part-time day job. I have always done narrative paintings, mostly of animals. For the past few years I have been working on a series called “Night Vision.” The paintings in this series are based on photos taken at night by my infra-red digital trail camera, which I have been placing strategically around our fifty-eight acre farm. It’s great fun to see who I’ve captured with this camera trap – and no animals get scared or hurt in the process.

I have been keeping journals since I was seventeen. I am currently on Volume 133. Recently I started a blog feature on my website called “The Journal Project.”  I pick a number from a “hat” and then I pick an entry from that journal volume and post it. It feels like I am doing an accidental life review, which I find helpful at this stage. The world is so crazy right now that I think we are all struggling with the meaning of it all. How do our individual lives matter? Has it been a total waste to spend my life painting? Who cares about art when bees are almost extinct, and humans won’t be far behind?

If I had to describe myself in one sentence for a brief biography, I would say that I am a person who lies awake every night obsessively worrying about things I can’t control. If I had two sentences to describe myself, I would add that I have an excellent sense of humor. I do.