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Rising Stars: Meet Valeria Prieto

Today we’d like to introduce you to Valeria Prieto.

Hi Valeria, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
Hi! My name is Valeria Prieto and I am a Latin artist, I have been living in the US for nine years and counting. I was born and raised in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, in my city, there were no Art schools, so since I was a child, I was self-taught, I studied Graphic Design and took some Visual Arts classes. From a very young age, I realized one of my dreams was to be an Art Teacher, I taught Art to children and adults for 13 years and I was one of the youngest teachers in the city, I was just 19 years old. During that time, I also developed as an independent artist working with photography and short films, which were exhibited in various countries.

Due to the violence in my city, my family and I moved to the United States, my family found work in Colorado and there I became a mother. For me, the change was totally different because I had to leave my job and all my artistic environment. After 2 years, we moved to Des Moines, Iowa where I found my happy place, where I reconnected with Art and Nature. The city where I was born is located in the desert of Mexico, so for me, arriving in Iowa was another world, I had never been in a place so green and with such blue skies. Right there, I started to preserve nature, I wanted to find some way to conserve and honor it, so I decided to turn it into Art.

I started making botanical jewelry, collecting flowers, herbs, and sycamore leaves during my walks, then pressing them to work with them. The sycamore leaves I turned into small canvases to paint and the flowers I turned into pendants, earrings, or rings, I had my small workshop at home where I learned to use the resin and work the Tiffany Technique by welding glass to preserve the flowers. In addition to my botanical jewelry work, I also took up painting and drawing and my artistic work was exhibited and sold in different parts of the city.

After three years, we moved to St. Louis where I now have my little studio at home, St. Louis has been a very important place for me what I have learned a lot, where people have been incredibly kind, and where I have had many opportunities to continue developing myself as an artist.

My painting work has been exhibited at Fonbone Fine Art Gallery and Soulard Art Gallery where I received the Award of Excellence. I am very happy to be able to share my work and my art in St. Louis.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has been a super difficult road, I came to the US with my husband, an unborn baby, just our car, and my husband’s new job. We started from scratch, we had no furniture and slept on the floor, eventually, we settled down comfortably.

It was difficult for me to be a full-time mother and leave my job, despite being legal in the United States, my visa does not allow me to have a permanent job and that made me very depressed at first.

When I decided to open my online store, it was like lighting a small light of hope, that kept me enthusiastic, I gave myself completely to my artistic life. It’s a challenge every day to reach new people who are interested in my work, especially when my work is sold primarily online through Etsy with so much competition nowadays.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
What I love most about my job is CREATING, I spend many hours a day creating, I love painting. My passion is to experiment with many elements of nature, encompassing animals, portraits, flowers, minerals, and other components of the natural world. I enjoy blending and balancing imagery and symbolism in my paintings through an abstract realism lens – Hoping to provoke emotions and expressions in Love, Magic, And Beauty.

I like to work with watercolor, graphite, ink, color pencils, acrylics, and oil on a myriad of surfaces such as cotton paper, wood, and different styles of canvases that allows me to conceive different variations in style and expression. I also enjoy exploring the world of digital art and illustrations, sometimes re-working a piece with distinct layers to capture contrasting visual dimensions.

I believe that my work is recognized because it promotes nature and fantasy, and that is what resonates with me, which is why it is reflected in my pieces and I am proud to maintain my genuineness between what I think and what I create and how people can identify with these worlds of nature and fantasy through my work.

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
What he learned during the Covid-19 is to see closer the importance of Art, that people have started to value it a little more. Art has united us at a distance, for those of us who practice it, it has been, I believe, what has kept us emotionally healthy, and I am not talking only about painting, but about music, cinema, poetry, or art in any form, art. It is a powerful medicine for the soul.

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Valeria Prieto

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