Laurie is a visual artist out of Toronto where she also works part-time at a great contemporary art gallery in Toronto, The Power Plant. She recently obtained support from the Canadian government in the form of grants to continue her practice. Through these grants, she spent some time making work in Berlin, and will also have the opportunity to travel to Documenta 13 next summer. In 2011 she was chosen by The Magenta Foundation as one of the emerging photographers from Canada in their annual competition Flash Forward, and by Jen Bekman as a finalist in her international emerging photography competition Hey, Hot Shot!
Could you summarize your career and creative path?
I’m a visual artist working in photography, collage, and sculpture/installation. I went to art school in Montreal and connected to the medium of photo. For a while I did only photography. But my brain has always worked sculpturally and architecturally, and I craved something more tactile. I started doing collage ‘on the side’ to serve as a break from photo. I slowly realized the similarities in my approach with the two processes and they began to merge. Then I started making sculptures and installations, “collaging” them, and turning it all into a photograph. I have an ongoing tumultuous relationship with the medium of photography – its limitations, its farcical nature, etc. It’s a universal language that is so varied in its uses and understanding, and I can’t seem to tear myself away from it. Underlying my work is this dialogue.
What is a typical work day like for you? Any special perks?
It depends on how I am able to make a living. When I’m doing a residency or supported by a grant, I’m able to completely indulge myself in my work. Obviously this is the ideal! Lately though, it’s a mix of working at the gallery, then working in my studio in the evenings and off-days. Right now I have a few weeks off so I’m in a self-imposed residency mode. Wake up, eat, studio, go for a run, eat, studio. Lots of internet and reading in between. It’s the best.
When approaching a commissioned work, what are your sources? How do you prepare?
It’s not too often that I do commissioned work because I have a hard time feigning excitement for a project that I don’t have any feelings for, so I’m picky about who I work with. Because of this, most (though not all) of my commissioned work has gone quite smoothly, and I see them more as “creative collaborations”. Communication is important, understanding where the client is coming from, and also feeling that they understand my work and where it’s coming from. When this is established, things usually (though not always) materialize naturally. My sources depend on the project. In the past when I’ve done collage-based works for commissions, I’ve used a lot of found imagery from books, catalogues, magazines, papers etc. that I’ve collected over the years. Book and magazine stores and the internet especially are also good sources.
Could you please tell us something about your “For K” series?
For K began as a project between my partner and myself – to make a weekly creative exchange for a year. I decided to make a collage or two per week. Though the project eventually tapered off, I kept going with it. I had in my possession a vintage, illustrated encyclopedia set that I had found in an alley a while back. So, I (almost) exclusively used the imagery and paper in these books to create the collages. I wanted to re-interpret the dimensions, environments, textures and shapes. They’re abstract explorations.
What’s the latest project you have been working on?
The project I’m working on now revolves around about 8 photographs I took. They’re mostly of idyllic landscapes, with a few images of non-organic surfaces and textures. I’ve printed them in a limited edition. I’m turning the prints into sculptures and installations then photographing them to make new photographs. They’re also becoming collages, and photo-sculptures. I’m recycling the images over and over again. So it will be a mix of photo, collage and sculpture, some of them being more than one of these at once. I’m playing with disrupting the idyllic, disrupting photography. I’m reading about “psychogeography”. Also, I’m playing with how I render and display the photograph, presenting it more as an object as opposed to a flat image.
Which of your skills would you like to improve? Why?
I’d love to have beyond perfect vision; I take forever to focus when I’m shooting.
What does bore you and what does get you excited about your job?
Nothing really bores me about it, though there are lots of anxieties, creative struggles and frustrations involved. But in the end making art makes me happy and fulfills me in a deep way, so it’s worth it.
Who is the woman you’d like to see featured / interviewed here?
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