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Four Elements

Valerie Maynard

by Synatra Smith, Ph.D. on 2022-08-18T12:00:00-04:00 in Black Artists | 0 Comments

African American sculptor, mixed-media artist, educator, and curator Valerie Maynard combines spiritual, ethical, and political themes in her work. She often uses found materials and connects the past to the present in ways similar to the artists Barbara Chase-Riboud and Emma Amos. She sculpts in materials such as stone, wood, metal, and ceramics and has also been a painter, printmaker, and set and costume designer. She began making protest art in 1970 and participated in the Black Arts Movement before transitioning into spiritual artmaking in the late twentieth century. 

Maynard was born on August 22, 1937, in Harlem, New York. She took painting and drawing classes at the Museum of Modern Art in New York from 1954 to 1955, and in 1955 she was an apprentice to the portrait painter Elaine Journet in New Rochelle, New York. She studied printmaking at the New School for Social Research in New York in 1969 and earned an MFA from Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont, in 1977. Maynard was the first artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 1969, where she established and directed the printmaking workshop. She also taught at Howard University in Washington, DC, in 1974–76 and the College of the Virgin Islands (now the University of the Virgin Islands), in St. Thomas from 1984 to 1988. She has participated in residencies at such institutions as the Brandywine Graphic Workshop in Philadelphia and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. 

PMA Collection



Cooke, Katie. 2020. “Biography and Selected Publications/Exhibitions.” In Valerie Maynard: Lost and Found, edited by Asma Naeem and Leslie Cozzi, 50–57. Exh. cat. Baltimore: Baltimore Museum of Art. 

Farrington, Lisa E. 2005. “Postmodern Pluralism.” In Creating Their Own Image: The History of African-American Women Artists, 250–79. New York: Oxford University Press.

Riggs, Thomas, ed. 1997. “Maynard, Valerie (J.): American Sculptor.” In St. James Guide to Black Artists, 354–55. Detroit: St. James Press.

Robinson, Jontyle Theresa. 1996. “Passages: A Curatorial Viewpoint.” In Bearing Witness: Contemporary Works by African American Women Artists, 15–38. Exh. cat., Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, IN. New York: Spelman College and Rizzoli International Publications.

Further Reading

Dawson, Charles Daniel. 1990. Interview of Valerie Maynard by C. Daniel Dawson. New York:.

Thompson, Mildred. 1990. “Valerie Maynard.” Art Papers. Accessed June 21, 2022.

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