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Valerie Savarie, “Tales of Forgotten Familiars”
February 24th – March 24th, 2024

Haven Gallery is honored to present Colorado based artist, Valerie Savarie, for her first solo show, entitled “Tales of Forgotten Familiars”. “Tales of Forgotten Familiars” features 19 new works, many made out of altered books, serving as portraits of animal familiars. Each familiar takes inspiration from multiple sources including the story itself, the author and the personal inscription. Savarie’s books find the emergence of its sitter through hand painted, carved and embroidered details that bear timeless attire and monochromatic palettes, ultimately indistinguishing time and place. These characters manifest from sources of love and creativity and find themselves continuing to carry and connect those of the past with the present.

One no longer needs to read a book to find out what the story is about. It is equally effortless to find the story of the author’s life.

Lost within the pages is the story of the person who once owned the book. Sometimes, there are underlined words, dog-eared pages, the person’s name written inside, which can give clues. Occasionally, there is an inscription – either by the owner or to the recipient from the bestower. Long before the book itself fades from public fancy, these participants have been forgotten, lost in time.

It is from these inscriptions, paired with bits of the author’s life and the story itself, that the entire spirit of the book has come to be, creating an entirely new chapter that is not the end, but a new beginning. These new characters have been conceived as “familiars.”

Familiars are said to be the spirits of our alter egos in the form of animal companions. They have a life all their own yet remain tethered to their human. And so these anthropomorphized animals carry the spirits of the book into today, telling their own story while also being trapped in yesterday, unable to cut the tie to their long since deceased human counterpart.

SHORT ARTIST STATEMENT: Valerie Savarie, known for her altered book sculptures, is a mixed media artist living in Denver Colorado. She uses vintage books as the centerpiece of her artistic creations, reinventing them into unique pieces through cutting, carving, stitching and character illustrations, while also retelling the stories inside. Her art is in private collections across the globe as well as in public collections in multiple libraries, hotels and universities.- in the US.

LONG ARTIST STATEMENT: Living in the artistic shadow of her older sister Valerie Savarie turned to creative writing in her teens to allow her own artistic voice to be heard from beyond her sibling’s veil. Deep inside, the visual artist waited patiently for a time when the shadow would grow faint. When that time came, words and visual art had formed an inseparable bond, and so her book sculptures came to be.
In selecting books, it is important that they be published before 1972 (or, is at least as old as her). Sometimes the book instantly creates a visual concept and other times, Valerie seeks out a book that will echo her mental vision. Taking the written story within, she reinterprets it into a three-dimensional piece by cutting, sewing and painting (all done by hand without the use of power tools), thus creating a multidimensional collage while still leaving the majority of the book intact. Every page is kept bound into the book as it is important that her pieces retain their intrinsic book characteristics. Each page that is visible is purposely selected to be seen – whether it be specific words, lack of words, images or a combination thereof. Words are as important as the visuals Valerie creates when making her book sculptures.

The characters she makes—the inhabitants of the books—are always painted in black and white, which allows them to live in balance within their predominantly black and white (text and page) surroundings. Sometimes they are animals; sometimes they are more human. Regardless of their species, the eyes typically lend themselves to a more humanistic expression and are the last thing Valerie paints. “Eyes tell a story within their own orb and greatly impact the feeling of a piece and so completing them last, I solidify the overall emotion I want to express”.

As her book sculptures evolve, Valerie Savarie finds her work growing beyond short stories, moving towards epic series – generating from a moment in time, page by page, book by book.

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