American Spark


Looking for something in particular? Search through the blog posts below.


Artist Profile: Piper Groves

This process has been a way for me to confront the vague discontentment about all the things I should be doing, and all the things I should be experiencing fully, instead of simply getting through the days.
— Piper Groves

Piper Groves, Director of the Shenandoah Valley Art Center, is a printmaker who discovered a profound connection between life and art when she was having a child. After a hiatus from art, she became pregnant at age 38. “Motherhood did not come as naturally to me as I would have expected … I was completely unprepared for the loss of sense of self that you experience … You may think it sounds like a young age. But in my doctor’s office, when you are 38 they call this a geriatric pregnancy.” [Story continues below]

“Resuscitation” 24x24 cut stencil on plexiglas

“Resuscitation” 24x24 cut stencil on plexiglas

“Many Hands Make Light Work” 24x36 Cut stencil on plexiglas

“Many Hands Make Light Work” 24x36 Cut stencil on plexiglas

Head Piper Groves.jpg

At the same time her son was born, her mother’s deteriorating mental state began to accelerate. The support she thought she might get was gone. So Piper began doing what she does naturally: she started collaging. Collage to Piper is a fallback as comfortable as a favorite blanket. “I began making subversive collages in my 20s. They were heavy on anti-consumerism, anti-establishment messages, and snark. It was through collage that I learned the delight of pulling something out of context,” says Piper, who has been collecting vintage scouting and Red Cross imagery for years.

During her maternity-driven return to the collage table, she collaged with no particular end in mind. But soon she was making a body of work that became known as FirstAID, tying in mid-century images with themes of transition, motherhood and more. “All the stencil pieces in the firstAID series are simple single images pulled out of context. Inside the confines of an instructional manual they make perfect sense. Standing alone and greatly magnified, they’re vaguely unsettling and somewhat uncomfortable. All the images chosen are about physical salvation but with no context, they tell a more ambiguous story.”

Piper’s stencils are transferred onto plexiglas, a medium which, she discovered, has an unconscious connection to childhood. As Piper recalls, “When I was very young, our dining room had a table with a sculptural black base topped by a very thick slab of tempered glass. I could clearly recall the feel of that cool glass pressed against my forehead as I looked through it, captivated by the way the glass changed the light… it was then I realized that we are captives of our past in some ways. The influence of our experiences never leaves us and it will find a way to seep out.” 

Check out Piper’s FirstAID here:

Piper Groves has participated in many solo and group exhibitions in Albany NY, Brooklyn NY, Tampa, FL, and the Shenandoah Valley. Her work is available through her private studio, at the Shenandoah Valley Art Center, and Four Corners in Delmar, New York.

Piper Groves.jpg
May-Lily Lee