Year Graduated: 2018
Mackenzie Lavallee was born in Kettering, Ohio in 1977. Her first experience at defending her art to a critic occurred at the ripe old age of 5 years old. She had been given a worksheet of the Seven Dwarves to color, and she did so using only a graphite pencil. When questioned by the teacher as to why she had only colored in the picture using pencil, Mackenzie confidently replied, “They are dirty from working in the mines all day.” The teacher made her color the worksheet again. Despite these early critics, Lavallee’s love for art continued to grow. Art class was always her favorite time of the week, and she enjoyed exploring art and artistic processes. She stopped taking art classes in the seventh grade to follow more academic pursuits, but was still always making or drawing something or other. After graduation, Lavallee joined the Navy as an Aviation Electrician. She has also been a bartender, youth specialist, Head Start home visitor, and phlebotomist. Lavallee moved to Sioux Falls in 2011 and began courses at the University of South Dakota in the fall of 2013. She is pursuing a BFA in Art Education with a Printmaking emphasis and minors in Psychology and Art History. Mackenzie Lavallee is currently living in Brandon, SD with her husband and young son. She hopes to graduate before she is old enough for AARP, so she can return to school, but as a teacher.
The work for my BFA exhibition is a continuance of a four -year exploration of self-portraiture and Wabi- Sabi in an attempt to come to terms with myself and accept my flaws and imperfections as things of beauty. As a person who does not enjoy pictures of myself, nor being the object of attention, my goal has been in developing a non-figurative depiction of who I am. Having spent two semesters investigating objects as representation I had the idea of illustrating myself through where I’ve been. The individual prints are cartographic representations of where I have lived. I approached the etchings with a dry-point aesthetic in an attempt to make the piece seem more realistic, loved and care worn. Identity can be strongly linked with sense of place and the places I have been and the life that occurred in each have left imprints. These pieces have been “stitched” together to create a blanket that covers my life experiences until this point. The dry-point prints of the glasses and the necklace, and the lithograph of the shoes are also self-portraits and are representations of objects closely associated with me as a person. I was experimenting with space and the idea that representational objects can be rendered without context calling into question the habit people have of making assumptions/ judgments about a person because of the objects associated with that person. The mono-print triptych is a portrait of my creative endeavor while printing. I think the process of making prints can be just as wonderful as the finished work. I enjoy the randomness and beauty of the mess that is making works of art. The cups are rendered in four different metals and represent my love and addiction to coffee. The metal is a metaphor for the weight of my dependence on the blissful beverage in order to person.