Valerie Grant creates Sandstracts, Rockstracts and Wavestracts in her Yarmouth Port studioBy Lannan M. O’Brien
“Great art picks up where nature ends,” a quote by artist Marc Chagall, is front and center on Valerie Grant’s website. Few words could better describe Grant’s own work, through which she portrays the complex beauty of Mother Nature and human life.
While Grant spent years traveling in and outside of the country, from Kennebunkport, Maine, to Turks and Caicos—where she lived for the past seven years with her German shepherd (named Caicos, after the island itself) —she has fond memories of visiting the Cape throughout her life. As a child, Grant remembers walking and playing on the beach, sailing to the Elizabeth Islands, and—whether from the sandy shore or a sailboat—sketching the ocean’s waves.
“I always said, ‘Someday, I’m going to live on the Cape,’” says Grant.
It was not until this past March that her dream came true, when Grant moved into her Yarmouth Port home that now doubles as her studio.
The space, aptly named Val Grant Studio, separates her work into categories that combine a range of subjects with the word “abstracts.” Sandstracts, Cavestracts, Rockstracts and Wavestracts are abstract photos, or combinations of photography and painting, that allow the viewer to see these four natural forms in unexpected ways. In Sandstracts, for instance, Grant shares the “art” of Mother Nature herself through photographs of designs carved in the shore by ocean waves. Some of the sand designs, undisturbed or altered by Grant herself, resemble a mallard, a mother and child or a line of trees.
“They’re just Mother Nature’s drawings,” she says of the series. “It’s amazing what Mother Nature can do, and people miss it.”
Grant first started noticing “sand art” while walking the beach with a friend in Scituate. At the time, she was told that the photos “wouldn’t amount to much,” but ignored the advice. With pride in her voice, she notes that some of them are now selling for $900.
Her work has inspired others to take a closer look at the world around them. People often tell Grant, “But I don’t see that on the beach.” After leaving her studio, some experience a change in perspective, like one fisherman who excitedly shared with Grant the designs he found amid his morning routine.
While on the island, Grant received a reading from a psychic who told her, “I see your work in a window in a New York gallery.” She thought little of it, imagining that the reading was an attempt to make her feel better about her professional future. Not long afterward, Grant was contacted by the owner of a gallery in New York with a request to show her work.
“There was one room in the [front] window, and he put me right there,” she says.
In addition to her nature photography, visitors to Grant’s new studio have been impressed
by her “Valstracts,” or her paintings, which she describes as abstract surrealism. Many depict the female body, and one in particular, called “There’s No Escape,” explores the fear of aging common among women. The painting shows a woman’s face as it ages from left to right, and on the far right, a tear trickles down her wrinkled cheek as her veins branch out from her head, representing her inevitable death. Grant has been pleased to hear young men comment on the work and express an understanding of its message.
When viewing Grant’s artwork, it is hard not to feel the depth of personal connection the artist has woven through each piece. She recalls that soon after opening her studio, one woman sat in a chair in the corner, quietly looking at her work. After several moments, the visitor let out a deep sigh.
“What an experience,” she said as she exhaled, wonder in her voice.
Grant could not agree more.
Val Grant Studio, 143 Route 6A, Yarmouth Port, 864-561-4442