When we look at nature, we often focus on the beauty of the living things found within it: the mighty trees, the blooming flowers, the sprouting plants. Yet, there's more to nature than just the living parts: there is death, there is decay -- yet in our avoidance of these aspects, we forget that death is necessary for renewal and rebirth.
Based out of Costa Rica, French-born artist Valerie Rey consciously integrates these themes into her artworks, which utilize pieces of salvaged wood, fungi, roots, empty shells and seeds. These pieces of decaying natural matter are carefully transformed with layers of gold leaf, and "colonies" of glass spheres. Here's a wonderful video of Rey explaining how her artistic perspective directs her work:
As Rey says:
I work through intuition, there I come into contact with myself. I collect fallen trees, dead branches, fungi, roots, driftwood, empty walnut shells and seed pods. They are considered “dead Nature” forgotten by all because they are without value to most people. I collect them jealously as for me, they tell the story of our land, our heritage, a part of ourselves.
Rey chooses to selectively cover her wood pieces in gold, as a way to "sublimate" and refine them. She believes that applying gold leaf is a "sensual act," requiring a calm and precise hand, an act that creates and honours an intimate bond with nature.
In addition to gold, Rey also finds or forms pieces of glass that integrated into her works. For Rey, the glass beads are like organic, "tiny beings" -- attaching them to the wood becomes a meditative act that also enlivens the sculpture once more:
Then comes the assemblage… gold forever symbolizing power and eternity, glass a token of purity and clarity. At the moment they unite, the metamorphosis takes place and the resurrection takes shape, the vibrant creation of a new organic material comes to life, highlighting the value of mere life itself. It is necessary for the whole process to take its time as it is a Re-birth. There lies all the meaning of my work.
For Rey, the process of creating her works is a meaningful metaphor in itself. In taking these dead materials and giving them life again, it allows one to realize that our lives as limited beings are short -- yet, when we are able to live each second fully, that is when one surpasses those limits, to where the hidden potential becomes a beautiful reality. To see more, visit Valerie Rey, and on Facebook and Instagram.