Valerie Skakun

  • Artist
  • Ridgewood, NY

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Valerie Skakun is a multidisciplinary artist based in NYC, where they received a BFA from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and an MFA from Hunter College of The City University of New York. They collectively co-exist with and care for several communities of microorganisms.

They are appreciative to the Canada Council for the Arts for awarding a Digital Originals grant, New York Foundation for the Arts for a City Artist Corps Grant, Queens Council on the Arts for two SU-CASA grants, Penland School of Craft for a Winter Residency Fellowship, Marble House Residency for a fully funded residency, PlySpace Residency Program for a Resident Artist Fellowship and a private living space + studio during COVID (2020), ChaNorth for a private living space + studio during COVID (2021), Vermont Studio Center for an Artist Opportunity Fellowship, and to Highly Authorized for a fully funded residency.

Skakun’s red blood cells are mutated, spherically shaped and fragile; at age five they became severely anemic and underwent an emergency splenectomy. For decades, as a way of survival as a chronically-ill person, they have researched ways to create healthy microbiomes and increase the operation of immune systems in order to improve cell function.

The philosophy of their recent body of work is informed by being routinely-sick, learning to walk again after a serious bicycle accident, and regrowth after atrophy. They have explored sculptures as objects of ritual, collaborative movement, and play, ranging from time-based devotions to endurance trainings in order to transform mental and physical states of being. The materials and rituals which aid in maintenance of a disabled body inform the materials and processes used in their sculptures.

Health is communal. Full and equal access to quality health care is a human right.