When I first starting interning for Valerie, I couldn’t help but wonder why. Why does Valerie do what she does? What brought her to where she is now? What drives her?
I was almost a complete stranger to her when she offered to take me on as her intern. I was taken aback and, frankly, a little intimidated. Okay, very intimidated. But here was a strong, capable artist offering me, a second-year undergraduate student, the opportunity to work with her. I had no idea what to expect, and I had so many questions.
I met Val at the Uptown Art Fair. Held annually during the first full weekend of August, the Uptown Art Fair is known for attracting a varied and eclectic audience, sometimes up to 375,000 people over the three day period. This summer, my family and I went to see my cousin who was showing art alongside Valerie. Our meeting was entirely by chance—I didn’t know who she was or that she was going to be there. But when I met Valerie, she exuded warmth and a comfortable familiarity. As kind as she is talented, Valerie talked to my sister and me about her art, the jewelry that she was selling at the event, and her search for a new intern.
Each time I’ve met with Valerie, she radiates the same kindness, passion, and good intention as at our initial meeting. Always concerned with making sure I get as much out of the partnership as she does, Valerie goes above and beyond to provide personalized lessons in photoshop, photography, website building and more. She has shared with me her passion for what she does, her story, and her platform. But beyond that, she has welcomed me into her life, consistently encouraging me to pursue my interests and flex my creative muscles. Her generosity has allowed me to gain insight into what it looks like to work from home, how to curate (and maintain) a personal brand, and how to leverage your skills to be successful in a creative field.
So, back to the original question… why? What drives Valerie Carpender? Valerie sees art in its purest form: as fundamental and integral to the human experience, and she wants to share this with the people in her community.
Like everyone, her life has not been without her share of trials and tribulations. But still, she persists. And that’s the best of all, I think. In spite of hardships, she persists, reminding young professionals like me that although some of the hardest times of our lives may be ahead of us, so are the best.