Valerie Mann earned a BFA in painting from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and an MFA in sculpture from Michigan State University. She has been making art, exhibiting and selling her work in the U.S. and abroad for 26 years. She has taught students in pre-school age programs, through all levels of K-12, alternative high school programs, and as an adjunct college professor. She continues to teach multi-age adult classes in various media and students in ‘at-risk’ programs. She lectures on the importance of nurturing creativity and ‘art as problem-solving’. She is also an evangelist for the use of power tools at a young age.
Having grown up on a working family farm in Indiana, she spent many an hour outdoors, paying attention to her environment, the animals and plants surrounding her. "Humbling" is the word to describe the relationship she cultivated with nature. Her understanding of the interconnectedness of plant and animal life is informed by her experiences outdoors on the farm and a love of outdoor activities. Her work is deeply influenced by her relationship with the outdoors.
She says, “I make most of my work with re-purposed materials. I've worked this way long before it was cool. It has, however, always been important to me that the previous life of the material isn't necessarily evident. The materials transcend their previous lives.”