Art and music have been creative outlets for Lou Valcourt her entire life. Starting to draw as a young girl, Valcourt’s love of art propelled her to pursue a degree in Fine Arts.
The U of M alumna’s latest exhibit is currently on display at the Cre8ery Gallery and Studio.
Titled Running with the Devil, the collection boasts a diverse array of mixed media works, memorializing Valcourt’s struggles throughout her teen years and early adulthood in a religiously repressive conservative community throughout the ’80s and ’90s.
The exhibit is her most personal project to date, with a collection of pencil drawings, acrylics, collages and writing in which she shares her heart wrenching stories and experiences.
“My work beforehand was largely focused on religious imagery, drawing from medieval work, sort of a critique, and sort of a tongue-in-cheek […] satirical work,” she said.
“I wasn’t really sure what to do next, and so I remember thinking to myself ‘Well what got me excited about doing art in the first place?’”
In reaching back, Valcourt rediscovered some of her old passions.
“One of the things that I really enjoyed when I was a teenager was, I would draw the heavy metal and the hard rock stars from magazines […] and that’s how I kind of learned to draw people,” she said.
“It sort of came to me to combine doing those drawings again with some of the stories of some of the things that I went through.”
With these old passions came the painful stories tied to them — the rejection of small-town conformity, religious conservatism, depression, anxiety, sexual assault and death are all intimate subjects that Valcourt has chosen to share publicly through her art.
“I think if you’re a creative person and you grow up in those kinds of environments […] that can be very challenging,” Valcourt said.
“One of the saving graces for me was having outlets like music and art. They really were life savers because I was dealing with these things and I was also struggling with things, like anxiety and depression.”
Moreover, all of this was tied up with the “satanic panic” of the 1980s.
“Here I found this music I just loved,” she said.
“I found it so expressive and empowering. And I had people around me saying ‘Well, it’s the devil and you’re going to hell because you listen to this music.’”
The title Running with the Devil is an immediate reference to Van Halen, but other pieces reference Mötley Crüe, Guns N’ Roses, Judas Priest and Metallica. In fact, various pieces in the exhibit include drawings of rock stars framed with a medieval-style halo of paraphernalia associated with Valcourt’s personal stories.
“Music was something I always really loved,” Valcourt said.
“The rock stars, […] they were the people who were the lighthouse for me.”
Valcourt said her hope is that her story can help others who have gone through similar experiences and show the healing power of creativity.
“Creativity has this power to help people overcome things.”
Running with the Devil runs until March 17.