Thursday, February 24, 2011

Laura Moriarty: Rosendale, New York

Lynette Haggard Artist Interview

Artist Laura Moriarty in her studio

Photos of Laura Moriarty's work by Josephine Kenney

A little bit about Laura:
I was born in Beacon, New York in 1960. Pete Seeger lived there, (still does), and was very active, so I was influenced by the whole this-land-is-your-land movement. As a young person I watched curiously from the sidelines as trippy hippies squatted in the abandoned casino on top of Mt. Beacon. There was a defunct trolly that used to bring tourists up there, with an old sign boasting the "Worlds' Steepest Incline!". I have lived all over the Hudson Valley, but for the past twenty years, the small town of Rosendale has been my home. It's an old mining town renown for its' cement, and there are still mines and caves all over the town, more remnants of a bygone industry which feeds my imagination.

Encaustic on panel 16 x 16 x 8 in.

Detail of Uplift

Did you receive any formal art training?
I'm mostly self-taught, but I use that term carefully because I think people picture Grandma Moses, and that's not me. Art school just never appealed to me, but I was always very motivated to be an artist, so I went out looking for my own education. My most formal training was as an apprentice papermaker. That experience gave me the discipline I still bring into the studio today.

Was there a certain point when you decided you were primarily an artist?
I always knew, though heaven only knows why; I certainly wasn't encouraged!

Can you describe bit about your work in general. What is your current work about?
My work is about time expressed through layers. Working with encaustic, I catalog the visual effects of heating and cooling. This is an important metaphor for me because of how it relates to the processes of the earth. Process and concept merge in my work, as layers of color that reference strata in a mountainside draw parallels between human and geologic time. Basically, I'm playing Mother Nature, but in the world I've created time passes much faster. My most recent series aims to create a visual glossary of geologic processes. Based on textbook diagrams and maps, I think of them as core samples or cut-aways of imagined terrains. Equally paintings and sculptures, they are poured in thick layers around embedded sculptural elements that resemble geodes and other natural artifacts, and then I erode and excavate to expose the stratigraphy of the piece. Like archaeological sites or the rockfaces that inspire them, their layers reveal the history of their making and can be read like the lines of a story.

Accretionary Wedge2011
Encaustic on panel 12 x 12 x 7 in

Accretionary Wedge detail

What is your workspace like?
After many years of renting a really rough barn that I was embarrased to have people visit, my husband (also and artist) and I built a studio in our backyard three years ago, and it's the best thing ever. It's a simple space, not huge, but it's our sanctuary. We kept it affordable by purchasing one of those pre-fab Amish barns, and then we customized it. Recently we built a small shed adjacent to the studio to use for storage. My studio functions like a laboratory, where I experiment, test, collect and document. Though it is not always apparent by looking at my work, I have come to think of myself as a behind-the-scenes performer; a kind of mad scientist, working to prove that the visual realm is profoundly important. This act gets played out privately in my studio.

A corner of Moriarty's studio

Are you involved with any arts groups or communities? If yes, what do you gain from that affiliation and what do you contribute to it?

I've been lucky throughout my career in that I've been able to land good art-related jobs when I needed them. The Ivory Tower has never been my goal. I am, by the strictest definition, a 'working' artist. Being a teacher, curator, writer, consultant and administrator keeps me involved with many arts organizations, businesses, presenters and fellow-artists. Aside from giving me a very realistic understanding of the business side of art, this network has come to define my community. It takes care of me and my work by giving me an opportunity to share and receive goodwill.

Plateau, 2011
Encaustic on panel | 8 x 8 x 7 in.

How do you develop a sense of community with other artists, and how do you support your art colleagues?

I participate in seminars, conferences, residencies, workshops, etc., that enable me to network in a focused way. I have come to see it as necessary in this day and age to reach out and actively make professional connections. It's not always easy for me because even though I know how to speak and present myself, I am not a 'people person'; I'm by nature a loner who would always rather be out walking in the woods. I don't enjoy networking or being networked when it's all about pure self-promotion, but I believe that by participating in these events in a positive and energized way, I attract opportunities and help others do the same.

Cover Collapse, 2011
Encaustic on panel 10 x 10 x 8 in.

Do you have particular habits that you think support your art practice?
Habits, rituals, controlled substances - whatever it takes to conjure up the magic! But seriously, I have all kinds of little tricks that I play on myself. For instance, whenever I leave the studio, whether it's just for the night or in advance of a longer trip, I always leave myself something good to confront when I come back. I'll get a new piece ready to go, or just leave some map that I love out on my worktable - something that's going to make me eager to get to work. Also, because I'm so active, I am meticulous about time management. I want to ensure that there is always quality time for me to have in the studio - not just the leftover hours at the end of the day when I'm totally wiped-out. I find that I am saying no to more shows and teaching invitations these days, and that feels okay to me because it opens those opportunities up for other artists who may need them more than I do.

Do you have other jobs other than making art? If so, please give us some details.
I have the perfect day-job running the gallery and workshop programs at R&F Handmade Paints.

And a video of Laura at work!

Do you have any upcoming shows that you'd like to mention?
April 2011
Laura Moriarty & Josh Weiss
Philadelphia, PA
I will be creating a new site-specific installation for this artist-run project space
April 2 - May 14, 2011

Steven Alexander | Nancy Azara | Grace DeGennaro | Pam Farrell | Lorrie Fredette | Joanne Mattera | George Mason | Laura Moriarty
Co-curated by Joanne Mattera and myself, this show features artists who are primarily known for their painting or sculpture, but who also create works on paper.  By showing examples of both from each artist, we will explore the conversations that occur within the two bodies of work, as well as among the different artists.

May 30 - June 10, 2011 Encaustic Sculpture

The Castle Hill Gallery
Truro Center for the Arts, Massachusetts
Curated by Cherie Mittenthal, this group invitational will run in conjunction with 

the 5th Encaustic Painting Conference in Provincetown, and will feature the work of Kim Bernard, Miles Conrad, Laura Moriarty, Catherine Nash & Nancy Natale

Exploring Media: Maps and Beeswax. Curated by Timothy Waldrop, University Art Gallery, Western Illinois University, Macomb, Illinois

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Susan S. Scott: Boston Artist


Artist Susan S. Scott

A little bit about the artist:
I'm a painter who works in Boston, originally from the Philadelphia area. I grew up in an average suburban middle class family. Two cars, two parents, two kids, cats and dogs, public school. I remember being kind of a sensitive kid. I didn't mind spending time alone and I liked to draw. It was an independent, private activity that only required a pencil and paper, and it was free. If it was something that required lessons, I probably wouldn't have done it. The point of it was that I needed to figure things out myself. Everything, really, you experience is an influence on your work. The things that caused you to wonder as a kid, what happens to you, it all informs how you relate to your surroundings, and therefore, your work.

Everyone relies on their senses, but I think many painters, especially, have a particular sensitivity to theirs that is best understood physically and processed visually. I think artists have a pre-verbal understanding of things that have particular meaning to them, and it's germane to their grounding. At least that's the best way I can explain why I do what I do.

Work in progress

I went to Tyler School of Art, in Philadelphia. My dirty little secret is that I majored in graphic design because I knew I had to get a job when I graduated and you need a design portfolio to get design work. Even so, I spent more time painting. That's where I felt comfortable. All my studio electives were painting or drawing. I loved art history too. Nobody in my family participated in any of the arts. I had no idea why some things were art, I only knew it was more than drawing a picture. It bothered me that I didn't know. My junior year in college I studied in Rome, where I was floored by seeing Cimabue, Duccio, Giotto, Montagne, Fra Angelico and Filppo Lippi (the list goes on... and on... ) life-size, in their intended context. The Early Renaissance painters. To this day it influences my sense of abstraction.

At what point in your life did you become interested in making art?
Was there a certain point when you decided you were primarily an artist?
Can you describe bit about your work in general. My paintings are constructed, disassembled, cut, glued, stapled, repainted, stuffed or flat, free-standing or squashed. I use new materials and recycled parts from old paintings. I have plenty of failures, but I don't think of them that way. Unsuccessful canvases will be taken apart and bring something of value to a new piece. Process is basically my driving force. The activity of using information supplied by the materials I use is more important than knowing what it will ultimately turn out to be. My emotions guide me, the best of which are surprise and disgust. These are my best motivators.

Two Sides to Everything

What is your work about?
I call myself a painter even though my work has become more sculptural in the last decade or so. It usually has some relationship to the wall, but sometimes it ends up on the floor. I use typical painting supplies: acrylic, oil, enamel, casein, flasche — many kinds of paint and mediums. They each have their own quality and my work is about painting.

My studio is in a warehouse in Hyde Park with many other artists. It's a mixed use building and we are just a small portion of it. I really need the work and storage space because I save so many materials, mostly wood, stretchers, different kinds of canvas and linen, and boxes — a lot of boxes, and styrofoam shapes. I save whatever looks like a good size or shape. My studio is about 700 s.f. The ceilings are very high because it's a gigantic building. But I don't have windows. It would be nice, but I use all the wall space.

Teach a Man to Fish

Do you involved with any arts groups or communities?
I'm a member of Kingston Gallery. It's an artist-run collaborative in Boston. We limit our membership to 20 artists so that everyone has a role in running the gallery. As members we help each other hang shows depending on what the exhibiting artist needs. It would be overwhelming to make the art and do everything a commercial gallery does to promote a show.

How do you develop a sense of community with other artists, and how do you support your art colleagues? 
I'm enjoying being at Kingston because I can continue to experiment with my work and let it develop in its own time without too much emphasis on sales.

Saddle Sore

Describe how you work in your studio. How do you get "in a groove" and what inspires you? 
I'm inspired by work that holds my attention, makes me think and feel something. It makes me want to push my work further.

Do you have any web links/site/blog etc. you'd like to share that show your work? 
I feel like I'm the last artist on Earth to get a website up and running. It's a little embarrassing. I've had a tight schedule for a long time now, so it keeps getting pushed back. It's in the works now though, and should be finished, well, by fall, to be realistic, because I am doing it myself. When it's ready, you can find it at:

Do you ever get stuck with your work and how do you remedy this?
Sure, I get stuck. You're not pushing yourself hard enough if you don't ever get to a place where you just don't know what to do. It's a mental thing so what I've learned to do over time is relax. I mean really relax — like, take a nap. I found an abandoned sofa in my studio building that is so comfortable that if I curl up on it, I'm out — comatose. Honestly, it has been the best thing. It's like rebooting my brain. At one time I felt I had to spend every moment physically working in order to be productive. Eventually I figured out that you can be doing a lot when you're not doing anything. If I'm engaged in creative work, there's plenty going on subconsciously. Getting stuck means I need to get out of my own way. However, I do stay in the studio. The thing is to get my mind to another place, not my body.

Do you have particular habits that you think support your art practice?
I work all the time, or I am looking at art. And I take good care of my family — it's easier to get more done when they're happy.

All Dressed Up

What are you reading right now? 
I recently finished Marcia Tucker's autobiography. She was an extraordinary person at an extraordinary time in the 1970's art world. My eleven year and I are reading Where the Red Fern Grows together. We read together almost every night — a habit we started when he was very little. There are so many great books for kids —  classics, that I never knew about at his age. I really enjoy them. And of course, there are always art books. I spend a lot of time looking at the pictures.

Do you have other jobs other than making art?
Every artist I know wears more than one hat — many hats. But I think you are asking me if I am paid to do something else. To that I'd have to say no, not right now anyway. For fifteen years I did graphic design, both full-time and free-lance. For part of that time I had a job share with another artist that worked out well for three years, until the agency we worked for went through a major reorganization. She and I made sure it went smoothly by staying very organized, informing each other about every detail on every job. In a way, it also meant putting our egos on the back burners. It was a rare opportunity and we both needed it to work for the sake of protecting our time in the studio.

A Well Used Studio

Where would you like to be in 5 years as far as your art making?
In five years? I think it would be great if I am fortunate enough to still be doing what I'm doing right now. I hope more people see my work, find it interesting and want to see more.

Do you have any upcoming shows that you'd like to mention?
I do. I will have a solo show in New York (City) opening at Heskin Contemporary on March 3, 2011 that I have been working on since last year. It will be up through April 9. In May 2011, at Kingston Gallery in Boston, I will have a small solo show. In addition, there will be a show of my smaller paintings at John Davis Gallery in Hudson, NY this summer. The dates have yet to be determined.

Thank you, Susan!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

More Good News!

I have been invited to participate in the Sixth Annual Encaustic Invitational Show at the Conrad Wilde Gallery in Tucson. 

This the work that I'm packing up to ship to Tucson this weekend.
Unfortunately, I can't be at the opening on March 5, but if you are—stop in!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Adria Arch: Arlington Mass.

 Lynette Haggard's Artist Interview 

Adria Arch in Her Studio

A bit about Adria:
I live in Arlington, MA, an urban suburb of Boston, with my husband and rabbit. I have two children, both of whom are finishing college. My day job is Education Director at the Arlington Center for the Arts, a non-profit community art center about 15 minutes walking distance from where I live. While I’ve never stopped practicing my art, it’s been equally important for me to have a day job that I feel gives back to society in some way. Before this, I taught art at local museums and colleges in the Boston area, and I continue to teach classes at the ACA. I gain a tremendous amount personally from being a teacher. My students give me as much as I give them.

acrylic on board, 30" x 20"

Where did you grow up and what were any early influences on your work?
I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA. Pittsburgh is a vibrant cultural center. My mother, who might have been an artist if she had had the opportunity, took me to art exhibits, lots of dance, theater and musical events of all kinds. I spent a lot of time wandering the exhibits at Carnegie Museum and the Phipps Conservatory which housed huge displays of flowers and exotic plants. As a teen, I took art classes at Carnegie Mellon on weekends and during the summers. There were a few significant teachers who seemed to take a special interest in me, and who made me feel as though I could become an artist. When I was 12, a summer camp art teacher encouraged me to build a 3 foot by 3 foot clay sculpture that had to be fired at a brick kiln! That was very empowering.

Did you receive any formal art training? 
I started college at the Rhode Island School of Design, and then transferred to Carnegie Mellon University where I graduated with a BFA in painting. Ten years later I received an MFA in painting from Mass College of Art and Design.

At what point in your life did you become interested in making art?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in making art. As a child, if friends came over to my house to play, we would end up drawing. I coveted my set of 100 Crayola crayons, and pored over the exotic colors like periwinkle and magenta. My most vivid memories involve art materials – the smell of wax crayons and wet fingerpaints, and the experience of being lost in the process gave me intense pleasure as a child.

acrylic on board, 40" x 30"

Was there a certain point when you decided you were primarily an artist?
When I was in fourth or fifth grade, I was known as the “class artist” because I could draw, and ever since then it has been a huge part of my identity. Since I always felt on the outside of most social groups as a child and teen, being good at art was huge for me.

What is your media?
I work in acrylics on wood panel at the moment, though I am broadening into some installation and wall sculpture. Previously, I have worked in monotype, a medium that has had a huge impact on my current way of working in terms of the way I layer color.

I have recently become a GOLDEN Working Artist. GOLDEN Artist Colors is an acrylic paint company that trains artists to use their myriad products and then give lectures and workshops to other artists. This has been a very rewarding side project, and the weeklong training session this summer broadened my own studio practice enormously.

Ice Flow
acrylic on board, 30" x 20"

What is your current work about? 
Several years ago I looked through my son’s discarded high school notebooks hoping to catch a glimpse of his inner world. I discovered pages of exquisite, tiny geometrical drawings sandwiched between lecture notes, sprinkled in margins and crammed edge to edge on back covers. Created in the unselfconscious state typical of doodlers, the shapes seemed to represent a secret, indecipherable language. I realized that they could be geometric diagrams, hieroglyphs, or pictographs—some kind of mysterious language or alphabet. In an effort to decipher these shapes, I began to incorporate them as compositional elements in my work. 
I have been using these doodle shapes for the past 3 years.

I photocopy the doodles onto transparencies and then project them onto my painting surface using an overhead projector. That way, I can change the sizes and control the compositions while still using his "authentic" hand. The doodles are copied as closely as I can, with all the burrs and scratches that appear when the shapes are enlarged via projector.

What is your workspace like?
For the past 25 years, I have worked in the basement of my house. My husband and I made the decision to update the basement for me, so we hired some folks to put up homosote walls, build storage space, and install track lights. I create my work on the walls, so the track lighting works well for me, whether it is day or night, cloudy or sunny. I have had to learn to be disciplined about leaving household chores and other distractions until later, to preserve my studio practice.

Are you involved with any arts groups or communities? 
I am a member of the Bromfield Gallery, a cooperative gallery in Boston’s South End art district. The Bromfield is Boston’s oldest cooperative gallery, and I have been a member for about 6 years. Members have solo shows every two years, and we meet monthly to discuss gallery business. I value this relationship greatly, as I believe it has strengthened my work, given me insight into the gallery world, and broadened my circle of artist colleagues. The great thing about a cooperative gallery is that you can take responsibility for making it what you want it to be for yourself. Each of us has jobs that make the gallery function well, and we each take turns sitting at the gallery and working at the opening receptions. All the artist members learn about the gallery business and we all have a say in jurying in new members.

I also belong to a women’s coaching group, comprised of 12 to 15 artists who meet monthly to encourage each other and network. This has been a very valuable experience, and a different kind of group from the Bromfield. For example, we’ve been reading Jackie Battenfield’s book, The Artist's Guide: How to Make a Living Doing What You Love and using the chapters to inspire and guide our art careers.

Red Head 
acrylic on board, 30" x 20"

How do you develop a sense of community with other artists, and how do you support your art colleagues?
This is very important – artists just cannot make it alone, and it can be a very lonely pursuit if you try to do it by yourself. I have found great community by attending artist residencies such as the Vermont Studio Center, where the focus is on making your work and interacting with and learning from other artists, not competing for grants or shows. Competition and envy can be poisonous, and sometimes it is not easy to avoid it, but you can surely counteract it by finding groups of artists who you relate to on this other, more productive level.

acrylic on board,  22" x 22"

Describe how you work in your studio. How do you get "in a groove" and what inspires you?
Studio practice is a lot like exercise. If you stop working out for a month or two it becomes harder and harder to get back in shape. Same with making your art. Just keep it going, even if it means you go into the studio feeling lousy and insecure and lacking ideas. You just go in there and sweep, straighten up the mess, put out the trash, and then slowly but surely, you notice out of the corner of your eye that there is something you could do to improve that piece over there in the corner, and you do it, and it does improve, and suddenly, you are working again.

What inspires you? 
Inspiration is overrated. I think it is more like bravery. You just go for it, take the dive into cold water, and hope you come up swimming. I do get inspiration from looking at art that is edgy, difficult and sometimes uncomfortable (often I find this kind of art in Chelsea galleries), because it gives me energy and encouragement to be brave in my own studio practice.

Softly Standing
acrylic on board, 20" x 15"

Do you have particular habits that you think support your art practice?
I always try to have something in progress to work on, and when I am really stuck, I cut up a sheet of BFK into 10 or 12 small pieces and just throw paint on them. Working small is a great antidote to being stuck in the studio. I also try not to think too much, or overanalyze. I try to work from my gut, and keep my head out of it until I am ready to assess my work.

What are you reading right now?
I just bought Apollo’s Angels, a history of ballet, to read on an upcoming trip. I recently finished Commitment by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Where would you like to be in 5 years as far as your art making?
I want to be as productive and excited about my work in 5 years as I am now! I hope to have several more opportunities for museum exhibits.

Do you have any upcoming shows that you'd like to mention?
I will be having a solo exhibit at the Bromfield Gallery in July of 2012, and a solo exhibit at the Art Complex Museum in Duxbury, MA in the summer of 2013. This spring, I’ll be collaborating with Lesley University students on wall installations at Lesley’s Porter Square exhibition space.

My website is and my blog is