Art One on One: The Circus Life


Valerie Berta, Star., 2014

We love slowing down once in a while and really looking closely at one piece at a time. 

For our Art One on One posts, we choose one artwork and spend time with its colors, composition and context. For this post, we chose to focus on Valerie Berta’s photograph Star.

After being laid off, Valerie decided to join the circus and start her family there. She initially worked as a photojournalist, something that definitely shows in her work. Her photos sometimes look like documentary photography but with an artsy flair. Valerie credits Diane Arbus for being a huge influence on her work. 

It seems each of her photos come with a story. Star. captures a woman mid-stretch and offers a snapshot of her life. 

Valerie shares: 

Amina, a contortionist from Mongolia, stretches before her performance on the Kelly Miller Circus show. This photographer is part of an ongoing project on the circus and my life in it, called “The Mudshow Diaries.” The project delves into the lives and performances of circus artists intertwined with our family’s daily life.

We love the close-up on Amina and the way it really draws us into the features of her face. The bright red background jumps out against the black of Amina’s hair and her costume. She seems tranquil yet determined, ready for her performance. The dramatic shadows underneath her chin add an almost cinematic twist to the image. It’s a photo that makes us wish we were there to see the performance! 

What do you think about this piece? Check out more of Valerie’s work here.