"Transformation. Movement. Flow . . . that is what I and my art are all about. The flow that occurs when thoughts become reality, growing vines change their surroundings, water creates canyons, and wind moves the clouds—the energy and movement in objects and ideas, and their affect on us in both the microcosm and macrocosm.
I am shifting my 25+ year creative focus from metal to painting. The ideas and feelings I am driven to express now are more suited to the atmospheric possibilities of paint than the immediate tactility of metal. Expressing the ephemeral in a more visual way reflects the emotions that flow through my hands to the canvas. I can get the brushes and paint to mirror transformation of unseen thought as opposed to the metal showing literal movement. I respond to the nebulous, the intuitive as it flows through me. Painting allows me to escape the physical." - Valerie Ostenak
Ostenak’s art career has spanned 25+ years primarily as a metalsmith working in steel and silver creating sculptures: decorative, functional, and wearable as art jewelry. She has worked with private clients, interior designers, and architects, designing and creating art for them to wear, and to live with.
Series and Inspiration
"Currently in my painting, I am exploring four series: Conversations with the Stillness, Embracing Shadow, Listening to Water, and Missing Hawaii. Each has a different philosophical approach, yet each seeks to bring myself, and the viewer, to a place of contentment and understanding. Conversations with the Stillness series explores the tranquility, the serenity that presents itself when we quiet our minds in meditation and prayer. Embracing Shadow reveals the light that comes out of the darkness as those meditations and prayers become answers for us. Listening to Water presents the turbulence and chaos of transformation and change as we live out those answers. It is up to each of us to find the way to breathe in the water, to swim with the current, and transform through the turbulence. Missing Hawaii is finding focus through the deep dark sadness of not being able to connect with family during the struggles of the pandemic. Floral possibilities begin to ground us in soothing familiarity.
Images from the Hubble telescope are my visual inspiration. They show the deep darkness that exists outside ourselves, outside our ordinary reality. The vastness of space is equatable to the Shadow within us all. Swirling within that darkness are an infinite number of brilliant stars, the literal light illuminating the way within ourselves. They are the guideposts that we seek and travel toward to take us out of the dark, to bring us peace and enlightenment. Nebulae in the formation of new systems are as images of thoughts coalescing and becoming real within our mind. They are thought materializing. The Hubble images are a vast visual of what and who we are. The Universe is connected to us and acts as a repository for all that we are. Transcendent and atmospheric, my paintings present a way for us to stop and listen to our heart." - Valerie Ostenak
In 2018, Valerie was invited by St. James’s House, a world-leading creative media group working with Rolls-Royce, to co-brand with the North American Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club for their annual Meet at Lake Tahoe. Her participation in this bespoke opportunity included an exhibition of her jewelry at the event and featured placement in the official Rolls-Royce commemorative book distributed internationally to RR owners exclusively.
Ostenak is the recipient of the 2017 Saul Bell Jewelry Design Award in Alternative Materials; the 2011 Centurion Emerging Designer Award: one of six from an international field; and the 2009 Halstead Jewelry Design and Business Development Grant. In 2009, National Geographic interviewed her for their online Education series and she was twice selected for their annual American Artist Appreciation Month. Valerie has presented her sculptural jewelry on the fashion runways of Phoenix Fashion Week 2009 & 2013 and LA Style Week in 2013. The Maria Elena Kravetz Gallery of Argentina presented her jewelry at SOFA Chicago in 2013 & 2016. She has been invited to exhibit at the internationally acclaimed Artistar Jewels Art Jewelry Exhibition, in Milan, Italy 2014–2017 during Milan Fashion Week.
Ostenak’s work has been published in numerous books, magazines, and blogs. Selected titles include: Strive for Perfection, official 2018 commemorative book of the North American Rolls-Royce Owners’ & Collectors’ Club; Artistar Jewels Exhibition Catalog 2015-2017; Wearable Expressions 7th International Wearable Art Exhibition Catalog 2017; Art Jewelry Today; Art Jewelry Today 2; Trend and Colours CIJ International; Watch & Jewelry Review; Showcase 500 art necklaces; ArtBusinessNews.com; Secret Life of Jewelry; British Vogue; British Harper’s Bazaar; and Contemporary Art of the Southwest.
Ostenak has conducted her own workshops on forging silver, as well as being an invited lecturer at the Art Institute of Phoenix, and demonstrator/lecturer at the Northern Arizona Arizona University and the Arizona State University metals departments.
1970-1973 Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ painting & metalsmithing, design, biology
1982-1984 California State University, Long Beach, CA metalsmithing, design