“When I recreate an animal, I want to recreate a feeling,” says Canadian artist Laurence Vallières. Her recycled cardboard sculptures express human emotion in animal form, exploring relationships, communication and political issues through innovative use of materials and with a hearty dose of humour.
Vallières specialised in ceramics at Concordia University, then furthered her training through an exchange programme in Los Angeles and residency linked to the Hermitage Museum, Russia. Inspired by Art Spiegelman, George Orwell and William Kentridge, the Montreal-based artist uses animals to mimic human behaviour and invite reflection. And by working with found packaging, she makes a bid for environmental responsibility along the way: “using trash to make art has political meaning when our economy is so harmful for the planet. This is why I consider my work political.”
Although Laurence starts out from sketches and ceramic models, cardboard has become her trademark. Since her first gorilla sculpture appeared at the Montreal Lumière Festival in 2012, she has exhibited in Germany, France, Sweden, USA and South Korea. In 2015 she was commissioned by the Philadelphia Zoo to create a sculpture of a male gorilla, and her oversize duo Seeing Humanity for What it Really Is was sculpted in Black Rock Desert Nevada for Burning Man 2016.