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Michele Lauriat

Artist Statement 2014

For the past year I have been working on two series of landscape based drawings: Spot Pond, and beyond|return. The drawings in these series always reference a specific place, yet the time, point of view, level of detail, and material use, shift throughout the drawing. I think of my drawings as exploring the relationships of the parts of each place. I look at specific details, but don’t give a clear picture. I value small relationships over big ones. I am not attempting to show a whole or comprehensive view of each place, as I am not convinced such a whole exists.

In the series beyond|return, I focus on the play of architectural shapes amongst the organic patterns of the landscape. I pay attention to the places where pattern overwhelms itself and breaks down, as well as the moments when chaos falls into a rhythm. Walking my dog in suburban Boston I notice the interactions between geometric shadows cast by rooftops, telephone poles, and wires, and the organic shapes cast by trees. I notice that on trash day there is an extra pattern on the street, a pattern that is both temporal and visual, as it emerges and then disappears one day every week.

While my motivation – or impulse – is a visual one, bringing the groundless aspect of my landscape drawings to the suburbs speaks to the instability of the stability seeker’s haven: suburbia. It is a place where it is easy to find comfort in the patterns and the maintenance of order, and hard to see beyond. It is a place where time based scale shifts are limited, and often fabrications of nostalgia. Yet between housing bubbles, divorces, floods, sinkholes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and the poor economy, even well maintained homes seem like a bleak reminder that the bottom can fall out at any moment.

The series Spot Pond is inspired by current and childhood wanderings in a conservation area not far from where I live. As I child, I picked blueberries there with my father while hearing stories about his childhood adventures in the same woods. These days it is my nephew who explores the area with me. He fishes and catches crayfish while I draw. While we seek out the details of the day, we participate in a pattern that is too big for us to see.

In both series the interaction of pattern, order, design, chaos, and the push of organic systems, direct my attention and mark making. My drawings begin with observations. I notice how the landscape shifts around me as I move through it. I notice how a bunch of leaves might start as a group, then separate out and become silhouettes of individual leaves, before becoming a group again. In the landscape I create plein air drawings and photographs to use as source material. In my studio I use water based paints and dry media to create large, disjointed, landscape drawings. My process, taking me back and forth between control and chance, is one of chaos barely tethered. Not unlike our relationship with the landscape.