Press Release The Word of God: Jeffrey Vallance

A small ornate sculpture of Juliet's balcony in Verona.

Jeffrey Vallance, Juliet’s Balcony, Verona, 2006, courtesy the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York

For immediate release

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Word of God: Jeffrey Vallance

Jeffrey Vallance is a California artist who creates objects, installations, performance and curatorial works. Vallance’s process is based in his interactions with institutions, communities, politicians, religions, museums and pop-culture figures. Some of his past projects have included traveling throughout Polynesia in search of the origin of the myth of Tiki; creating a Richard Nixon Museum; and traveling to the Vatican, Turin, and Milan, Italy to study Christian relics. Vallance’s interest in the relics and religion brings his work to the Word of God series. This exhibition features The Vallance Bible, a series of writings based on Vallance’s personal experiences, spiritual upbringing, studies and reading as well as reliquary objects. The Vallance Bible includes a preface, a foreword, a gospel original – The Gospel According to Jeffrey – and a series of reproductions of works in connection with religion, the Reformation and John Calvin. This illustrated bible, published the year of the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin (Jubilee), will be co-published and distributed by Grand Central Press and Centre d’édition contemporaine.

The exhibition also contains a selection of Vallance’s reliquary objects. Vallance has a vast historical and cultural knowledge of the tradition of relics and believes “they are among the most beautiful and wondrous art objects created by humankind.” His reliquaries, like Warhol’s Time Capsules, store and revere mementos of people, places and things.

Beginning in the early 1960s, Vallance became interested in relics and religious history. He states, “I turned my entire bedroom into a museum and frequently invited people over to see the installation of artifacts.” Similar to early Christians who used pagan or profane boxes to store their precious relics, Vallance collects “boxes not originally designed as reliquaries. I take these profane boxes, install a window in the front, carve various elements, and attach heaps of ornate molding. I then paint, gild, and antique them, and finally apply a patina, resulting in as many as ten layers of finishes.”

Vallance says of his reliquary project, “I intend no sacrilege toward relics; I am using the convention of reliquaries as a conceptual framing device to produce a kind of autobiography rendered in personal artifacts. My process of relic accumulation is a lifelong project, with some relics generated intentionally and some accidentally, and it will continue long after the end of this specific project.”

The Word of God: Jeffrey Vallance, curated by Abby Franzen-Sheehan, associate curator of education and interpretation, and Eric Shiner, director, is on view December 11, 2011 through February 5, 2012.

This exhibition is the fifth and final in The Word of God series, which examines major world religions and their texts through contemporary art. Sacred texts are considered by many to be the direct words of God to man. How this Word is passed down and received is dependent on the people, languages and cultures in which it is presented. This series explores the questions: what is the best version of the Word of God; and does the artistic rendering of it enhance understanding or is some essential truth lost in translation?

The Warhol wishes to thank the lenders: The Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York City; The Margo Leavin Gallery, Los Angeles; and Jeffrey Vallance. Additional thanks to The Community Advisory Committee for The Word of God Series: Jeffrey Cohan (Director of Community and Public Affairs, Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh); Kyoki Roberts (Head Priest, Zen Center of Pittsburgh); Bill Stout (Docent Director, St. Nicholas Church); Carole Brueckner (Committee Chairperson, Saint Anthony Chapel); Diane Novosel (Chair, Millvale Murals Preservation Society); Malke Frank (Director/Founder The Jewish Women’s Center of Pittsburgh); David Pohl (Artist); Rabbi Amy Hertz (Rodef Shalom Congregation); Reverend Tom Bodie (Unitarian Universalist Church); Wanda Guthrie (Spiritual Progressives, The Thomas Merton Center); Luqmon Abdus Salaam (Light of the Age Mosque); Von Keairns (Religious Society of Friends); Doug Spencer and Lakia Brown (Allegheny Children’s Initiative); Adil Mansoor (Artist-Educator, The Andy Warhol Museum); Anahita Firouz, (Cofounder of Pittsburgh Near East Institute and Board Member; novelist); Robert Maddock (Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network); Susan Kendall (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Director of Doctor of Ministry Program); Thomas Sokolowski (Independent curator and scholar of contemporary art); Tresa Varner (Curator of Education The Andy Warhol Museum); Maritza Mosquera (Community Liaison, The Andy Warhol Museum); Mary Martin (Artist); Melissa Hiller (Director, American Jewish Museum of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh).

The Warhol has, in its seventeen year history, presented difficult or controversial imagery and art in order to spark community dialogue. The dialogues and visitor experiences from such encounters with art and images are powerful and potentially community changing.

Exhibition Related Public Programming

As part of The Word of God, The Warhol is presenting an ongoing series of public dialogues and gallery talks by various scholars, community activists, artists and religious leaders. The goals of these programs are to provide context for the artist’s work and to spark dialogue about the issues raised in each exhibition.

Opening Celebration – The Word of God: Jeffrey Vallance
Sunday, December 11, 2011
2 p.m. Jeffrey Vallance Talk – seating is limited
3 pm.. Reception – coffee, tea, lite bites and cash wine bar
Join us as we celebrate the opening of our fifth and final exhibition in The Word of God series, The Word of God: Jeffrey Vallance.

Free with Museum admission

The Word of God Series

The Word of God: Sandow Birk’s American Qur’an

February 26 – May 1, 2011

The Word of God: Helène Aylon, The Liberation of G-d and The Unmentionable

May 8 – June 26, 2011

The Word of God(ess): Chitra Ganesh

July 9 – September 4, 2011

The Word of God: Max Gimblett The Sound of One Hand

September 17 – November 27, 2011

The Word of God: Jeffrey Vallance

December 11, 2011 – February 5, 2012

The Warhol receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency; and The Heinz Endowments. Further support is provided by the Allegheny Regional Asset District.

The Andy Warhol Museum

Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the place of Andy Warhol’s birth, The Andy Warhol Museum holds the largest collection of Warhol’s artworks and archival materials and is one of the most comprehensive single-artist museums in the world. The Warhol is one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.

Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh

Established in 1895 by Andrew Carnegie, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh is a collection of four distinctive museums: Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Science Center, and The Andy Warhol Museum. The museums reach more than 1.4 million people a year through exhibitions, educational programs, outreach activities, and special events.