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Valerie Doran Bashaw 

Mother Earth, Father Sky


May 5 - July 29, 2023


The Opie Gallery


I look to the skies and watch the birds, storms rolling in, changing weather, and brilliant sunsets.  We have lived on the Kansas prairie for four years and I am moved and changed by it, my work is much influenced.  The subtle starkness is magnificent as I watch undulating streams of snow geese move like ribbons, calling far overhead.  The Spring Peepers are singing, a first hint of Spring.  Geese and ducks are returning as are many migrating birds.  Ranchers are burning prairies, and see the horizon glow hot pink as the sun sets.  The ground goes from charred black to neon green in a week, amazing.  Often the talk is about water, whether is there enough or rarely is there too much.   


What damage are we doing to the earth, our waters, our living beings, and ourselves?  What legacy do we leave for those who come after?  First peoples teach that what we do now affects the next seven generations.  What does uranium mining do to the Diné people who drink the same water?  The repercussions seem endless, Native people are losing their ancestral lands in coastal areas due to global warming.  Chief Oren Lyons, Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan, Onondaga Nation speaks of ice, and I quote: “The ice is melting, the winds are coming, the fires are burning, the climate is changing.  It is coming and it is coming very fast”.  At some point the constant striving for greater production, more fracking, and more chemicals on our farms, and in our factory farming has to stop, it has to change. What legacy will we leave for our children and their children?  Hopi and other prophecies have predicted that we would come to a fork in the road.   I believe that we are there now, do we turn toward healing and change, or continue down this slippery path?  I have faith that there are new ways to do things. And yet I mourn vanishing species; what will we do without bees and other pollinators?


The title of my exhibition refers to a beautiful song from the indigenous Tewa people called “Mother Earth, Father Sky”.  I am respectfully borrowing the title, it is not my work, I have been deeply moved and inspired by it for nearly all of my life, and it echoes my feelings.  These works are my prayers for goodness and healing.


I work with plaster and other mediums in my newest body of work, they are mounted on deep birch boards.  I have carved into it, shaped it, made impressions, and added paint, and mixed media.  I am over the moon inspired by the landscape in southern Missouri and northern Arkansas.  

I have family roots in this region, among the Ouachita and Ozark mountains.  Have you hiked in them, see the crags and hollers, floated the rivers? I am drawn to water; thawing waterfalls,  moving over rocks with sunlight reflecting from it, and the sounds, oh the sounds.  


And in honoring Father Sky, I am sharing cyanotypes with imagery of migrating birds and butterflies.  Recent batiks reflect flowers, the Milky Way, and the stars.  I look up and I look down.  I am quiet and feel so fortunate to have had these transcendent experiences.  Enjoy, and find quiet and peace while contemplating my work.




Valerie Doran Bashaw, of rural Kansas, is a professional fiber/mixed media artist and fine arts educator. Always learning and experimenting, her media choices include plaster on board, cyanotypes, intricately dyed and stitched fabric stretched over deep frames, batik, shibori, surface design, combined and refined.  


Imagery is subtle, though colors can be intense.  She is happiest watching birds, landscape, storms move in, with a strong interest in weather patterns, geology and geography. Attracted to the dance between accidental and intentional, spontaneity versus control, yin and yang.  Creation is fueled by intuition and the drive to make art.  


Valerie is an educator, working with students of all ages and abilities.  Education includes a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and a MFA from the University of Michigan. She has taught for Metropolitan Community Colleges, Park University, University of Central Missouri, Ghost Ranch Conference and Education Center, Kansas City Young Audiences, Accessible Arts, Bishop Spencer Place, the Barstow School and other venues.  She continues to show her work exhibitions in the greater Kansas City area and her work is in many collections; including University of Kansas Medical Center, physicians offices, businesses and private homes from Mexico to Michigan and beyond.  


She has been active in various arts organizations including the Best of Missouri Hands, Missouri Fiber Artists and is on the Board of Directors for Sharing a Vision for Generations, raising money to award scholarships for Lakota women to study Lakota Studies at Oglala Lakota College in South Dakota. She recently co-authored a grant to benefit her rural community.  Fingers crossed that funding will be awarded!    


Her works embrace the aesthetic of quiet, meditative work, meant to encourage reflection. A way to retreat from the hectic, over-stimulated world.  Find the dreamtime, take a deep breath, retreat into contemplation and silence.    

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