We've been so amazed by Laura's art for years, and even more impressed at her ability to teach at OSU and CCAD, be an amazing mom and at the same time find the time to make beautifully crafted pieces. We met up with her well over a month ago for a studio visit and we're just now getting around to post this piece on her. But first, a quick background on Laura (taken from her artist website).
Laura Weiser was born and raised in Parkersburg, West Virginia. She studied painting and printmaking at West Virginia University, where she graduated with a BFA. She moved to Columbus, Ohio in 2007 to attend The Ohio State University and graduated with her MFA in painting and drawing in 2009. Currently, Laura works as an Instructor of Art at both The Ohio State University and Columbus College of Art and Design.
Laura creates 2D works that incorporate encaustic, drawing materials, and oil paint. She works with images of architectural interiors and exteriors and creates connections between their history and how they are currently perceived. Inspired by ghost stories, her work imbues these places with apprehensions, nostalgia, and imagination. Laura has shown her work recently at Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio, ARC Gallery in Chicago, IL, Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts in Minneapolis, MN, and The Parkersburg Art Center in Parkersburg, WV. She has had recent solo exhibitions at Stone Village Gallery in Columbus, OH and the City Art Center in Delaware, OH.
1. When did you start making art? Is this something you've always done or been interested in making?
I’ve definitely always been interested in making art but all children are really, I just kept doing it. My earliest memories of art making were from kindergarten, I would draw and cut out sea creatures and spread them out on the floor as if it was the ocean. I also started making books around then, just simple, stapled together books with illustrations. A lot of my recent work has a narrative quality so maybe I’m returning to that thought. Maybe I should start doing floor drawings too! That’s actually not a bad idea.
I took art classes throughout middle and high school and saw what I could of art in museums (I grew up in a pretty small town, but we travelled a lot). When you’re young of course, it’s about making art as realistic as possible. I remember winning best of show for a charcoal drawing of pigs in a barn at the county fair. Then when I went to college there really wasn’t too much question about what I wanted to study and then grad school brought me to Columbus and OSU.
2. How has your art changed since you started teaching?
You really have to understand the fundamentals in a different way, in a much deeper way. I teach first year students so I am always steeped in the fundamentals of design and the process of art making from ideation to creation. Its also keeps me up with contemporary art and the ability to think about and describe work. It’s like going to art school all over again! Teaching also rekindled a love of drawing for me. Drawing was the first thing I ever taught (at OSU) and I just love the immediacy, connectedness, and temporal qualities of drawing. It’s such a personal thing, the mark is so tied to your body and a specific thought at a specific time. You can have a class of 20 students all drawing the same still life but each student’s translation of it looks different, feels different, and communicates something different.
3. You have a 2-year old daughter now, how has that affected the way you make art (in terms of craft)? More importantly, has the act of having a child change the way you see things?
Actually she’s 3 now!
It has definitely changed the way I see things in a million impossible to describe ways. In terms of how I work- I used to think that I needed to be in this solitary, quiet place to make work and that just isn’t going to happen for me. I don’t think I made any art work the first year of her life, but eventually I figured out how to. You can’t ever make art that exists in a vacuum and you certainly can’t make it in one. So really my life as a mom is all a part of the process of making. Logistically, I have learned to work when I get a moment even if it’s just for a moment and to work with or alongside my daughter. Sometimes she draws or paints too, other times she’s watching a movie in the next room. I’m sure that this arrangement has changed the art work in some way but I haven’t quite put my finger on it yet. One thing that’s really great though is how interested she is in what I’m working on. She tells me what a painting looks like to her or she is asking me about what exactly I’m doing. When I am finished working on a drawing I always hang it on the wall of my studio to keep it safe so lately she’s been making drawings and then taping them on the walls.
4. What record are you currently listening to? (Because we are always curious and we always ask this question).
I am really out of touch with current music so I am usually listening to something old in my record collection. The most recent album I listened to was Lust for Life by Iggy Pop.
5. What's your biggest influence at the moment (person / place / thing)?
I don’t know if this is an influence or just an interest but I have gotten really obsessed with storytelling lately. I listen to podcasts of the Moth Hour, Snap Judgement, Home of the Brave, etc… when I am doing busy work in my studio or while driving.
6. Describe a typical routine day, or describe how you go about making an art piece. From start to finish, please.
I always start a piece with source materials. Sometimes I work from photographs that I take, documenting things that might work well in a drawing or painting. Other times I have an idea for an image and I have to go online and try to find already existing photos and combine them to get the scene that I want. When I start on a piece, I almost always include some experimentation with material and process. I often think that I am making things hard on myself by complicating the process of drawing or painting but that part is really exciting to me. For example, I might sandwich imagery between layers of encaustic wax, or I scratch into the surface of the wax and then fill the lines with paint to create marks (like an etching). With my recent drawings I have been using drafting film which is a translucent paper and I have been experimenting with drawing on both sides of it.
Throughout much of college my artwork was abstract but still referenced architecture. It’s only been the last few years that representation has come back in my work. I am always questioning whether I can still work like that. If I have to draw a house or a chandelier or whatever, I am never sure if I’m going to have the skills to do it or not because I took such a long break from working in that manner. But the great thing about experiencing both abstraction and representation in your work is that you learn a lot about your materials and can become more sensitive to things like the process and the mark.
7. What were the decision factors to create a home studio?
After I got my MFA it was a necessity because I couldn’t afford a studio space. But now I really don’t even want one. My schedule is such that I can only work for short periods of time and if I had to add traveling to that equation I would never get anything done. I was talking to a professor at CCAD and he said he paints every single day if even for just half an hour. I am striving to do that-a little everyday. So much of art making is busy work anyway: building a panel, preparing a surface, slowly building up a drawing. It’s not like I need some sort of secluded, sacred place to do that. Plus I like that it makes my work part of my everyday life in a very literal way. My studio really is part of my house too-I don’t even have a door I can close.
8, Let's have some fun: Choose two of these more light hearted questions to answer:
What's your spirit animal?
Are you into skirts or shorts?
Favorite summertime activity? Hiking, grilling, and porch sitting
If you could be a super hero who would you be?
Secret shopping addiction?
What's your go to drink? IPA
Cats or dogs?
You can see the majority of the pieces in this blog at her Solo Exhibit, opening tomorrow at the Stone Village Church in the Short North. Opening is from 5pm - 7pm. Click here for the event invite and additional information. Stay tuned for the next IN THE STUDIO session, coming up later this summer.