Valerie Xanos’ artistic practice is interdisciplinary as well as multi-faceted. As an artist, she works in analog and digital media to create site specific, immersive installation art. Valerie also creates in the media of paint, collage, and photography. Her current work, Exiled in Light :|: NeverWhere uses light projection and LCD installation to focus on personal narratives of body, memory and perceptual light shifts as media. She explores light as mediated through a spectrum of materials, including fiber/acrylic constructions, animation, and digital processing. Various iterations of projected and reflected light investigate synthetic relationships within a constructed image/space immersion. Each site specific interactive installation creates an immersive environment for the viewer to experience within a particularly composed architectural space.
Valerie got her artistic start as a 12-year old, taking classes in Continuing Studies & The EArly College Program at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago and later became faculty in SAIC’s Young Artist’s Studios and Adult Programs. A BFA and teaching certificate were earned at SAIC and The Glasgow School of Art in 1991. She completed her MFA at SAIC exactly 30 years later in 2021. You can see the Thesis exhibition work, “Never(W)here”, on this blog.
Valerie’s identity as a Greek American has a strong influence on her life as an artist. Considering herself a member of the Greek Diaspora, she is strongly influenced by Greek modern history and the teachings of her father and grandmothers. These teachings reflect ideals of Philotimo and Arete. Thusly, Valerie’s work is not only philosophical, perceptual, and sensual, but also answers the call to make the world a better place through human connection and social activism.
Valerie Xanos became an artist teacher in the Chicago public school system to be an agent of change for young artists. Valerie grew up and still lives where she teaches, sharing a connection to her students through community, and creating civically engaged artworks. A 25-year veteran of CPS, her work as a practicing artist informs her practice as a teacher. She teaches a Guerrilla Art class as a collective at Curie Metro High School where students and teacher all engage as participating artists, tearing apart the teacher-student hierarchy for a democratic approach to learning. This art course has been a partner of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago since 2014. In 2016, as the inaugural artist teacher for the pilot year of the prestigious SPACE program, her work with students has helped develop the SPACE concepts and curriculum. Co-creating and co-teaching with Chicago artist, Andres Hernandez (among others), they have realized a robust method of teaching contemporary art practices to address art and civics. This program is now used in two other Chicago Public Schools. She now teaches three levels of this course, renamed “ARTivism”, as a track at Curie HS.
Her artist/teacher practice was spotlighted in 2017 for SAIC’s biannual magazine, which “tells the stories of faculty and alumni whose work as artists, designers, scholars, and educators engages the audience to make positive changes in our world”.