top of page
suspended at the umlauf.png

Suspended at the UMLAUF: 
Valérie Chaussonnet


Suspended at the UMLAUF is a brand-new exhibition series featuring select artists’ sculptural works suspended from the ceiling of our octagonal Roberta Crenshaw Building. We are honored to inaugurate this series with a nine-foot-long wooden sculpture by artist Valérie Chaussonnet.  

While a student at the Corcoran School of Art in 1988, Chaussonnet obtained precious mahogany beams from the shipyard of the Pride of Baltimore II–a replacement of the Pride of Baltimore (a replica sailing clipper from the War of 1812) that tragically sunk in 1986. She crafted a bed using the reclaimed wood–which were shaped after the flanks of the ship and bore the original saw marks. Saving her last two remaining beams, she brought them to Austin for an “exceptional” sculpture–Great Mother. 

Great Mother blends Chaussonnet's personal motherhood journey, her cultural heritage, and an empowering female perspective. The two arched wooden beams attached to one another can be read as a shuttle, a canoe, or female genitals–metaphorically linked to the concepts of life via birth and motherhood.  

Wooden lace bobbins and tatting shuttles hang from red threads in the center of the sculpture–a tribute to fiber arts as traditionally female and an homage to Chaussonnet's childhood memories of her great-grandmother's lacemaking. 

Chaussonnet draws inspiration from artists including Magdalena Abakanowicz, Martin Puryear, Austin-based artist Beili Liu, and James Surls–who interestingly was the sole artist besides Chaussonnet to suspend art from the ceiling of the Crenshaw Building. 


An artist for nearly four decades, Valérie Chaussonnet (b.1960, Paris, France) has put her experiences as a woman, mother, and anthropologist into an art form. After graduating from Sorbonne University with a MA and a DEA from Sciences Po in Paris, Chaussonnet traveled from UC Berkeley, where she was a Visiting Scholar, to Laval University in Quebec and the Canadian Arctic. She then spent eleven years at the Smithsonian Institution, researching and curating exhibits on Arctic and Siberian cultures–a specialist of women’s clothing, symbolism, and art, and of shamanism. While at the Smithsonian, she attended night classes at the Corcoran Art School studying sculpture. Chaussonnet moved to Austin in 1997, balancing her life as a mother to two sons and her career as an artist. She has had solo shows in Austin, Killeen, and Midland, and participated in over a hundred shows in the past ten years, including the (former) Austin Museum Of Art; the Grand Rapids Art Museum; the Lawndale Art Center and the Art Car Museum in Houston; the Contemporary Art Museum in Plainview, Texas; the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts; Artspace111 in Fort Worth; the Biblical Arts Museum in Dallas; the Neill-Cochran House Museum, Dimension Gallery, and Women & Their Work Gallery in Austin. 

Image Gallery

bottom of page