Valeria Watson, Asheville Member Since April 2015 Artist Statement Born in Denver, Colorado, Valeria Watson can trace her Affrilachian roots to Western North Carolina and Tennessee. Scots who hailed from Mecklenburg County took her Great, great grandfather “Pap” and his wife Melinda to Texas to work on a land grant farm. During the journey, they met indigenous people who were a part of the Trail of Tears as well as other migrating African Americans.
The artist states, “These are my people. They are Scots, Irish, Choctaw, Cherokee, Ibo and Yoruba.” Watson received a B.A. from the College of Emporia and an M.A. in Theatre Arts from Columbia University. After a career in the film industry, she arrived in Asheville, NC in 2005. Watson is also Yeye Siju Osunyemi, the name received after her initiation as a Yoruba priestess of Oshun. In 2008, after a two-year effort spearheaded by the artist, Asheville, NC and Osogbo, Nigeria officially became Sister Cities. Central to her work are elements of autobiography and self-portraiture. Even as her work is filled with angst, it operates toward resilience, reconciliation and redemption.