Shalene Valenzuela

Believe It Or Not



“Don’t believe everything you see,” we are often told. This is quite sensible advice, especially when viewing the work of ceramic artist Shalene Valenzuela. Her intricate work has its roots in the trompe l’oeil art tradition of visual illusion. Trompe l’oeil, from the French for “trick the eye”, derives from card play, where a hidden trump card wins the hand. The genre begins with painting, when Albrecht Durer painted a realistic fly on the knee of the Madonna in Feast of the Rose Gardens, (1506) inspiring future generations of artists to emulate this “art of deception.”


Durer’s work was so convincing that viewers were seen attempting to brush away the fly. Shalene Valenzuela’s ceramic creations, cast in slip and and decorated with silk-screened, real-life imagery, also baffle her viewers who just can’t tell if what they’re looking at is real.


Valemnzuela has exceptional command of her materials, recreating common household objects in clay with uncanny fidelity. She deftly combines a unique array of techniques with philosophy to produce thoughtful and challenging work, drawing upon contemporary practices of appropriation, surrealism and pop art history. Wickedly humorous social satire is the result of the mix.


The artist studied casting and image transfer on clay with Richard Shaw, Professor of Art at University of California, Berkeley. Shaw is renowned for his liminal work in cast porcelain.

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