As an artist growing up in East Los Angeles, Valdez was the only Chicana in the conceptual performance group Asco (Spanish for nausea). Valdez is a multitalented artist in several media, including performance and conceptual art, installations, murals, fashion design, collage, photography, easel painting, and set design. Her painted domestic interiors often function as self-portraits—intimate glimpses into internal thoughts and feelings.
Vibrant, saturated colors electrify this topsy-turvy, magical room, where heavy theatrical curtains frame a wild and energetic scene [The Magic Room, SAAM, 1997.70]. Nothing is stable: carpet patterns swirl like whirlpools, wine glasses topple, chairs tip, rock, and float. Gymnastic rings swing freely side-to-side, as four balls on their own bounce merrily through the room. The green chair on the left climbs the thick curtain while a blue chair dances sensuously with the table—forks hanging on for dear life. Overall, the effect is dizzying, yet, despite the uneasy perspective, a balance exists between fantasy and reality. As Patssi Valdez has remarked, “My goal is to keep the paintings alive, to give them a sense of movement. I want to evoke a feeling that people just left the room.”
Jonathan Yorba Arte Latino: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (New York and Washington, D.C.: Watson-Guptill Publications, in cooperation with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2001)