In depth discussion with Lauralynn White on “Journey,” White’s first Chicago solo exhibition. Opening reception at noon artist talk begins at 2 PM. Join us for a special afternoon with libations at Oliva Gallery.
From the first melding of landscape with human form in 2005 to works fresh from the studio, the exhibition Journey… is an overview of Lauralynn White’s work. We follow her course as she explores multiple mediums to realize her voice. By juxtaposing early figurescapes on canvas with works on wood and stone where figures appear to emerge from the surface, and the interlocking forms of the “Connections” series born of the pandemic, a rhythmic and unified vision emerges. The message has grown over time from a quiet whisper to an urgent plea for everyone to wake up and really see the sacred in each other and in all aspects of our living, breathing planet.
Over the last two decades artist Lauralynn White has been articulating the implicit inter-connectedness between the human figure and the dynamics of nature. Being female, the majority of forms she represents are poetical expressions of herself in graceful gestures and exotic poses as the everywoman. Her representations of the male are equally dynamic in expression but her primary focus is a response to her own gender and life.
That said, the myriad ways she gets this idea across is through endless innovations of style and medium that incorporate classical standards of figure drawing (a constant motif throughout) with illustrative technique and fanciful color. Recently, the work has migrated atop earthy surfaces with her figures imbued onto hollow wooden doors and flat stone. She “reads” into the organic patterns and textures of these materials to extract the human essence from within its variegated surfaces; like looking into clouds but seeing yourself embedded in them.
Her latest scrolls of female nudes seem as if they could wrap around a colossal Etruscan urn or cover the inner walls of an Egyptian tomb with pictorial narratives that recall women’s roles throughout the entire of history. References to Medieval Manuscripts, Middle Eastern Icons, Degas’ ballerinas and comic books, Matisse’s dancers as well as Salvador Dali’s paranoia critical method of looking can be regarded as subtle homages to all of these oddly related artforms.
An avid doodler, White takes tiny drawing pads with her to public events, concerts and exhibitions. Accompanied with a linear shorthand developed over many hours of life drawing classes and workshops, she would sketch out a figure through imaginative observation, and, with a frenetic abuse of illustration pens, morph a human form into trees and branches while pushing the figure into submerged shadow within a pesky, consciously scribbled space.
Extending this methodology further, the artist took numerous photographs of landmasses seen from an airplane. These aerial views of all the twists, turns and curves of rivers and hills are then printed and suggestively reworked with ink, resulting in languorous females luxuriating upon a living planet.
These works are subtle in their implications, finding their strength in cultural memory and art history while keeping the image of the female form entirely forefront. A prime example of this are the gold-framed icons of women lounging against a blazing carmine red background with touches of gold.
In contrast to the long established Orthodox history of male-oriented icons of saints and savior; the halos, bibles, ceremonial attire and depth of demeanor are absent. The women are relaxed, as if just getting out of the bath, either stretching or sleeping, and the mixture of Russian iconography with Degas’ bathers is yet another odd pairing of historical ironies.
An important feature of any classical art education, life-drawing is a direct observation of the human creature and is as ancient as it is modern. In White’s firm anchoring within this practice, she sees a different direction, a separate path, and attempts to place all of these women in alternate settings while proposing in the future that these and many other women journey toward greatness.”
And the statement was written by Ron Schira in a critical review of the collection.