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Helena Vallée Dallaire

New York Academy of Art

Playing with Dolls
oil on linen


Tell us about the work that you have submitted.

A self-portrait, it is a reflection on my own cultural identity and the narrow, occidental origin of most of my knowledge. It is an ode to curiosity and to questioning the parameters through which we look at the world.

How do you describe your work and practice?

I paint people and scenes that question our set societal rules. I am fascinated by the push and pull between unity and difference in our human network.

What motivated you to apply to the XL Catlin Art Prize?

I just graduated from the NYAA and thought the XL Catlin Art Prize was an extraordinary opportunity.

What about figurative work do you find particularly inspiring?

How intrinsically complex it is, and how it is connected to an abundantly rich tradition. It evolves with the times without ever being far from its roots. A deep understanding of the past is necessary for my work to come alive and be meaningful, while still existing in and participating in contemporary reality.