Artwork featured in January in the River City Art Association Artist of the Month Gallery at the Vigo County Public Library marries the creative textiles and woodworking skills of Valerie and Rod Funk of Terre Haute.
Valerie’s unique quilting style speaks to her love of artistic greats such as MC Escher, Kandinsky, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
Rod works exclusively with native woods such as walnut, oak, maple, birch, red cedar, ash, hickory and pine to create intarsia works of art.
Valerie was born in Shirley, Mass., and moved to the Terre Haute area in the late-70s where she grew up and went to school at both Terre Haute North and then Terre Haute South Vigo high schools. After completing high school Valerie enlisted in the Indiana Army National Guard where she served for 10 years while simultaneously serving as an officer for the state of Indiana.
In 1998 Valerie was accidentally shot in the line of duty which caused her to reconsider her career options. After a long recovery, Valerie decided to further her education by enrolling in an associate’s degree program at Ivy Tech Community College where in 2008 she earned her degree in photography and graphic design.
Upon graduation Valerie moved to Iowa where she met her husband Rod Funk, and married in 2011. Shortly after moving to Iowa, Valerie was introduced to quilting where she learned to sew and make quilts. It didn’t take her long to take her quilting in an entirely new direction in an effort to merge her love of art and design with textiles. Valerie designs each piece individually, many starting as a mere sketch on a scrap of paper. She specializes in graphic style modern abstracts and one of a kind portraits.
Since learning to quilt in 2010 Valerie has designed and created over 150 original quilts and has been juried into three international quilt shows and competitions. In 2012 Valerie was commissioned by the Iowa Department of Veteran Affairs to create a quilt for a raffle that would raise money to help meet the needs of veterans. The quilt raffled and earned a grand total of $11,500. The raffle quilt had such a moving story and was such a success that in 2014 the Iowa Department of Veteran Affairs asked Valerie to create a replica of the raffle quilt to hang in the Veteran’s museum in Van Meter, Iowa.
In 2015 Valerie and her husband Rod relocated back to the Terre Haute area to be close to her family. In spring 2016 Valerie joined River City Art Association where she has been displaying her quilts as works of art for the first time.
Valerie currently has a studio in her home where she quilts, creates, and accepts orders for specially commissioned pieces.
Rod was born and raised in Lucas County, Iowa. Later he moved to Osceola, Iowa where he met his wife, Valerie. He has enjoyed woodworking and woodcrafts since high school and has continued to hone his skills as a hobbyist ever since, working on a variety of projects such as cabinet makings, furniture refinishing and repurposing, using reclaimed woods, making tables, desks and other such household items before moving on to smaller more artistic inlaid wood pieces.
In December of 2015 Rod and his wife relocated to Terre Haute to be close to her family. Since settling on Terre Haute’s south side Rod picked up intarsia art to pass the time. Intarsia is sometimes described as the art of creating decorative designs and pictures by skillfully utilizing the grain, figure and colors of woods to create patterns, pictures, and dimensional objects.
After previously working on large furniture projects Rod thought the smaller, more artistic pieces would be more challenging. Rod prefers using natural woods and rarely uses stains or paints. He enjoys the process of choosing which woods he will use in certain spots of projects carefully selecting a particular variety of wood for its grain characteristics, rich dark color, or contrast of light.
Each of these “small art” projects takes about 20 to 60 hours of work from design concept to completion. The process of completing a project usually starts with either a hand drawn sketch or print, the wood is carefully selected, each piece is then cut by hand, shaped, sanded, and laid into place. Once each individual piece is finished it is then glued together and placed on a solid backing board. After the glue has set and dried it is treated with a special protective spray coat that gives it the luster finish.
Rod’s wood-crafting skills are completely self-taught and his artistic style is still evolving as he learns more about his craft. He also accepts orders for specially commissioned pieces. Rod joined River City Art Association in December.
The couple’s artwork will again be featured in February in RCAA’s outreach gallery in Harrison College in Terre Haute.
RCAA membership is open to artists age 18 and older living in Indiana and Illinois. The membership meets at 6 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month in the Vigo County Public Library at Seventh and Poplar streets in Terre Haute.