Artist: Laura Garner
Show: Vol. 2
I was raised in the city of Columbia, South Carolina. For as long as I can remember, I have always had a fascination for all things odd, strange, old, beautiful, and insignificant (well, depending on whose perspective). I love the visual arts, and always have. My deep-rooted appreciation and passion for the arts has found its voice through numerous media, but the one that resonates with me the most is paint. Oil paint in all its excitable tangibility; from its long-bearing history to today’s modern applications.
After receiving my BFA with a focus in Painting and a minor in Art History from the University of South Carolina in 2011, I moved to the city of Groningen in the Netherlands until 2013. I continued with my education by pursuing a Masters Program in the Restoration and Conservation of Easel Paintings and Gilded Frames with Accademia Riaci in Florence, Italy, and completed the program in the summer of 2014. My vision of pursuing a professional career in Conservation has manifested into a reality with my recent anniversary of one year of employment with Carolina Conservation in Columbia, South Carolina. The balance between doctoring old, worn, and seemingly forgotten paintings in juxtaposition to creating my own paintings; new, infantile in comparison, and fresh from the imaginings of my own mind is, a contrast that influences my work greatly.
I’ve always made art and cannot imagining not making it. I remember being four; sitting on the kitchen floor and squinting at the fanlights to make them blend; to be able to manipulate the colors and hue. When I found tools that could help me do this; i.e. pencils, crayons, markers: I never looked back. Now the tools I use are more sophisticated, and my understanding and knowledge in the visual arts has vastly evolved. But the childlike wonder; the innocence of creating; like a flower’s head, floating in the breeze, is still and I hope will always be there. I forever want to play.
That is my art.
Awe and romanticism. We live in such beauty and wretchedness. I like the opposites of the world we live in. The grotesque nature of it. How everything is actually topsy-turvy. How marvelous it is, and how terrifying it can be. I like to think I can capture these moments and pockets through paintings and other forms of visual expression. What inspires me could be a dream, an emotion, a person, a landscape, a dead bird. There are so many strata in our world and I want to feel it all. Making art helps me feel it.
It brings me closer.
Specifically for this show, I approached my creative process with the ideas of transience, suspension in a temporal space, and symbols. A ram, for instance, symbolizes both war and sacrifice. I am not a veteran, but the ones I do know and have listened to seem to always carry with them the weight of what war and sacrifice involves. They live in a temporal space in their mind on occasion, and sometimes see a movie none of us will ever see, ever feel, in that deep temporal space. Symbols are simple things that can represent vast spaces and meanings.
Sometimes they are objects that can outlive a human lifetime. Sometimes they are objects that represent mortality and the fleeting of time. These were the themes I held in my mind as I created these works. To honor the human lives who have sacrificed so much with the visual creation of works that convey how I, as well as others, only see the mere tip of that iceberg. That mammoth choice of responsibility.
I make up stories when I paint. I name my subjects. I talk to my colors. Sometimes I even threaten my paintings. Sometimes I sing to them. I love them, and then I hate them. It makes each one really involved. Not a manufactured approach. Very personal and weird and…. Well, like a child at play really. When nobody’s watching and you’re free.
Through creating this breadth of work for this show, I feel like I’ve tapped into one of the levels of strata that I’ve mentioned before, that I want to know but will never really know. I’ve never been to war. I’ve never been in combat, and probably never will be. I want to be a balm for the friends of mine who have been. I want to help them heal. But I will never know what it took or how that wound can disappear. But through my eyes, through contemplating maybe what they saw through their eyes while in that world, I can gain an iota of something-something to bring me closer to their level, to their strata. To their humanity.
And I want to be able to bring others to feel that through my work.