Laurie Hassold lives in Southern California with her hubby and three cats where she works as an instructor at Santa Ana, Orange Coast and Irvine Valley colleges.
Laurie’s beautifully surreal sculptures cry out from within their own little wiggly world. At first glance, one is struck by their symmetrical, flowering grace and elegant composure. Somehow, you knows a woman created them, both pretty yet somehow painful. At closer look, the juxtapositions in her imagery start to smack you around. They are delicate yet grisly, feminine yet macho, organic yet mechanical, cerebral yet sensual, fun but also dead serious. The ying and yang of her works are reflective of life itself and it is her singular creativity, which holds our interest and makes us want more. Sculptures which resemble organic creatures of the Alien variety, they are composed of sometimes humorous, often symbolic and always strangely wondrous recycled items.
My favorite art memory from my childhood is…
When I was in the 3rd grade my mom started taking an oil painting class. She would bring home all these wet paintings of flowers and animals and I would get really excited to see whatever new painting she’d just finished. I had a little toy fox terrier at the time named “Terry” (original, huh?) who had a habit of running out to greet my mom and jumping in her VW bug. One day my mom came home with a big painting of red poppies and I couldn’t wait to see it. Terry jumped in the car and all over the wet painting before I could get there—there were paint paw prints everywhere! Of course the painting was smeared beyond repair, but to my surprise, my mom wasn’t upset in the least. She said she never really cared about the end result of the paintings, she just enjoyed the process of making them. This baffled me.. and it’s taken me years to understand, but now I get the difference between process and product based art.
My interest in art started…
Probably with my mom’s oil painting class, but I had always been into illustrated fairy tales and can remember trying to draw portraits and animals from about second grade.
I am often inspired and motivated by….
Nature, especially insects and flowers. Caves, bones, and anything under the ocean or in the desert are a big inspiration to me as well. I am also keenly aware of predator/prey relationships going on in my own back yard. Being a cat owner, I’ve become sensitive to the tension between domesticated nature and wild nature. Science fiction, and how it seems to prefigure hard science technological advances, gets my cerebral juices flowing as well. In some ways, I think the images we see in science fiction cinema and literature rely heavily on nature and its endless variety and mind-boggling permutations. The Alien monster is an obvious outgrowth from the strange anatomy and reproductive processes of insects. The stunning beauty and horror that co-exists in even the smallest of non-human creatures, as well as the elaborate mechanisms and rituals they use for attracting prey and mates, fascinates me. We humans are so damn boring by comparison. I truly enjoy thinking about a possible future where there are no humans—and everything we’ve achieved has been squished down into a dirty pink layer in the geological clock. Post-human extinction earth is a place I’d like to see.. and the creatures that get to live in that world are often what I am trying to imagine in my work.
If I could spend the day with any artist (dead or alive) it would be…
THAT is a cool question! I have too many artists I would want to hang out with –Marina Abramovic, Lee Bontecou, Lee Bul, Shen Shaomin, Uram Choe, Cai Guo Qiang — it’s hard to choose just one — so I’ll go with Abramovic (below) since she was the subject of my thesis in grad school. It might seem a weird choice, because she’s a performance artist not a sculptor (although she has produced objects as part of interactive performances), but I think her work had a huge impact on me. I was fortunate to be able to interview her for my dissertation, and she was amazing— generous, and really down to earth. Everything she does feeds her work — she makes no separation between her life, her art and her body—which she uses in harrowing ways—pushing herself to extreme limits to achieve some sort of transformation in consciousness. I have great respect for performance artists, in that there’s no real commodity or product for sale. Sure, you can sell photographs and video footage, but it’s the live action and how it irreversibly changes the one performing it, as well as those who view it, that makes the real art. In my opinion, making art only for its sellability is a pretty soul-less endeavor, and I’ve always made the best art when I ignored how it would be received by a purchasing public.
And we would…
I would almost be afraid to hang out with Marina for a day—at the time I interviewed her, she told me about a workshop she was conducting in Amsterdam and invited me to participate. It sounded like hardcore performance art boot camp, and in hindsight, I regret not doing it—who knows what my art would be like today after that kind of experience? Based on what she told me about this workshop, a day with Marina would probably go something like this: we would fast all day and hike out in some sort of rugged, beautiful natural place. There would be no talking whatsoever (part of her training), for most of the day until evening, until we would spontaneously perform whatever boiled up to the surface.
The tip or art technique (a specific tidbit of craft, advice or mechanical expertise) that has helped me the most is ….
Be open and receptive to “happy accidents”. Also… push materials to the point they collapse or convulse … and push yourself at the same time to exceed your own skill level with any given material. Do LOTS of experiments and PLAY, PLAY, PLAY (but play seriously…). Lastly, a favorite professor of mine in grad school once told me “to make art like NO ONE will ever look at it”. When you can manage to do this, it is the most liberating feeling imaginable!
If I could own one piece of art, out of the world’s collections, it would be …
Do I have to pick just one? That’s damn near impossible! An investment counselor might say to purchase Damien Hirst’s “For the Love of God”, but my cellular fabric screams out the following three pieces—Lee Bul’s “Amaryllis”, Cathy De Monchaux’s “Don’t Touch My Waist” and anything, absolutely anything by Lee Bontecou or David Altmejd!
My favorite piece of my own art is…
The one I’m currently working on—whatever that piece happens to be. It’s hard for me to look at works that have been finished without wanting to change them and keep building on them, however, I do feel quite complete when I look at “Trying Not to Tell” (above) and “Corsage for Darwin” (below)
I cannot find anything else that I would do to those works—they feel very resolved to me.
My ultimate project or fantasy is …
To be able to collaborate on a sculpture with one of my favorite artists… Cathy de Monchaux, Lee Bul, Uram Choe, Lee Bontecou, etc., etc., etc….!
The last song I choose to listen to was…
”Flat Black” by True Widow…I heard them before a recent Dinosaur Jr. reunion concert in Orange County and got hooked.
The last book I couldn’t put down was ….
“Solaris” by Stanislaw Lem; and before that Kazuo Ishiguro “Never Let Me Go”.
My favorite word is …
Again—so hard to pick—right now it would have to be “hauntology”. It was a term coined by the philosopher Jacques Derrida in the 1990’s to describe “the paradoxical state of the spectre, which is neither being nor non-being”. It has something to do with the present existing only with respect to the past, and I have a long way to go toward understanding it all, but it makes my brain hurt in a good way…
I can’t live without …
The grounding influence of my husband, purring cats, haunting music, nature in all its beastly glory, desert isolation, collecting bones and tatting lace.
It’s not hip, but I really love ….
Crocheting, tatting lace and watching old black and white movies.
My favorite motto (or quote) is….
“To create you have to lose your fear of being wrong.”
Can you give us a short synopsis of how you form your wonderful sculptures? What materials do you use?
I do a lot of visual research—looking at things that inspire me—usually from nature and geology. Then I start “drawing” with wire, usually without any sketch or preconceived plan. The lines connect to form shapes, and the shapes become planes of 3D forms. Then I use tinfoil to fill in the wire skeleton—securing it with masking tape. This stage goes on for quite awhile—growing and changing (I often cut things apart and reconfigure) until I see something that hooks into me.
What I’m really striving for is some sort of recognition or identification with the developing form—I want IT to tell me what to do next. When that happens, things flow, when it doesn’t, a piece can flutter around for years without resolution. Sometimes the music I’m listening to, a recent conversation or a book I’m reading, influences how a piece progresses, making that “aha!” moment more personally significant for me.
Once the form is found, then I start applying the resin clay that makes the hard outer shell. This is where I get to play with a lot of texture, and I also embed found objects and random bits and pieces of stuff laying around my studio. The last stage is the painting process—which happens in layers of putting on paint and wiping it off. I always underestimate how long this takes!
The work I do is very processed based, and my process can be painfully slow at times… I also never seem to be able to stop — if a piece comes back from a show, I often keep working on it. Some pieces have been cannibalized altogether and reassembled into completely new works.
For more of Laurie’s works, at her Art Slant site, click here.
Previous Eclectix post on Laurie and her “Bone Hut” in process.
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