Valisa Higman’s artwork is inspired by a deep connection to both her natural surroundings and her community.
She has always enjoyed playing with knives and scissors; and she grew up watching her mom hand-cut silk-screens and her dad carve intricate images in wood. Seeing the possibilities, she combined her background in drawing and her love of bold saturated colors with the medium of cut-paper.
Starting with a single sheet of black paper, Valisa Higman carves away at the background using an X-Acto knife, and her images are revealed in an intricate lacework of lines. Using the black as her foreground, she fills the negative space by piecing together layers of paper in vibrant colors and textures. As a finishing touch, she adds the last details and shading with watercolor and other paints.
Born and raised in Seldovia, Valisa began developing her technique in high school.
“Seldovia is full of all the things that make my artist gears turn,” she says. “I was raised in a magical world of moonlit skiff rides, sap-kneed tree climbs, and low-tide treasure hunts. My body and my art were nourished by clams dug from the beach in front of our house, blueberries and salmonberries picked in the woods behind, king crab kept alive in a tidal bathtub under my dad’s shop, and community potlucks where everyone shared their richest most signature dishes. It was a spruce-needles-in-your-boots kind of life, with a little beach gravel and garden soil thrown in.”
In 2012, Valisa opened a studio in her dad’s old woodshop on the bay in Seldovia.
Ever the adventurer, she commutes the short distance from town in a locally built rowboat, making friends with the resident otters and seeing something new and interesting every day. “I’ve learned there’s a common emotional thread that ties people together. My art has become a way of grasping that thread and sharing a momentary closeness with the viewer. When I reflect on how art functions in my life, I see it as both an avenue for storytelling and as a tool for shifting an everyday moment to something singularly beautiful.”
In addition to regular art shows and selling prints and other merchandise, Valisa has illustrated a children’s book for Sasquatch Publishing, written by Seldovia author Erin McKittrick titled, My Coyote Nose and Ptarmigan Toes.