Art Nerd New York | Los Angeles

Laurence Vallières’ 9 ft Gorilla at the Philadelphia Zoo

Last week I caught a $1 Bolt Bus (yes, really!) down to Philadelphia to see the incredible artist Laurence Vallières for the opening of Second Nature at the Philadelphia Zoo. For the exhibition, which runs until October 31st, Vallières created a nine foot sculpture based on one of the zoo’s gorillas, Motuba, which she made on-site so that visitors could see her process of transforming discarded cardboard into life-life sculptures. Motuba is a stud male who is part of the Gorilla Species Survival Plan, which is an effort to repopulate the world’s gorillas who are threatened by deforestation by the timber and paper industry. Vallières’ use of disused cardboard to create his likeness adds a poetic thread to the piece.

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My friendship with the Montreal-based artist is somewhat of a digital love story. Cardboard is why we are friends. I’d started my forthcoming book last year in a very shaky way, simply Googling “cardboard artists” for the first week or so before I figured out how to proceed. Laurence was one of the first artists I contacted, and she replied promptly. A month later, my boyfriend Logan Hicks was traveling to just outside of Basel, Switzerland for an exhibition he was in, and showed me the flier, which included Laurence. The coincidence was not lost, and she came to New York to work on a project with Logan not long after- and we became immediate friends. I’m so happy to see her succeed, not only as a sculptor, but with the opportunity to make important works from a material that most people deem as trash.

Go check out the exhibition this summer!

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