Valentine Svihalek is a Belgian and American abstract painter, international educator, community director, podcast host, author, and mother of two. After the birth of her first child in a Czech village surrounded by people who spoke a different language, she felt isolated. Supported by the Artist Residency In Motherhood Program, she developed a process of artmaking that liberates expressive energy and establishes connection.
Graduate studies in philosophy and postgraduate studies in teaching, literacy, and culture in San Diego and mentorship with Multimedia Artist, Isadora Stowe provided the foundation for her work.
Passionate about education and connecting people with opportunities, Valentine founded the Art Connect Women's Collective and the Art Connect Society. Inspired by her community work, she published Mama
Meditations: The Imperfect Artist Mother Journey and The Bright Side: Affirmations For Overcoming as reflections on postpartum experience. She founded the Bella Valentina Artist Residency Program, bringing together visual and performing artists in the Czech countryside.
Valentine has exhibited in galleries in Europe, with the Jewish Museum Prague, Canadian BHA Gallery, curated solo and group exhibits. She's been published in The Huts and Women United international art magazines. In 2022, she published Painting Our World, US: An Artist Diary, and was longlisted for the Women United Art Prize. She hosts the Art Sisters Podcasts and is a member of Spilt Milk Gallery, The Art Queens Society, Create Magazine, Artist-Mother Network, ARIM, Victory Art Gallery.
Freedom of thought and movement were scarce commodities in my childhood. After becoming a mother in a new country surrounded by people who spoke a different language, I was determined to embrace my individuality. Approaching my abstract paintings with an intention of autonomy rather than predetermined or concrete outcomes nurtures a side of myself long repressed. Expressive gestural movements guide playful, rhythmic, free flowing exploration.
Through abstract expression I unearth the natural beauty and energy within, experienced as peaceful blues and greens combined with bright pops. Spontaneous layered marks and tangles capture moments of complete release and confidence in self and movement. Nurturing safe spaces for a raw release of one's true colors, free of judgment.
The shock of navigating those first steps of motherhood without my supportive network and being thrown headfirst into a new culture and language served as a guiding light to seize my passion, lean into my desires, and trust my voice. Inspired by the energy of human connection and dynamic elements such as water and coral reefs, I color my world. In humanity's imperfection lies so much beauty and triumph that deserves to be celebrated.