Laurie Shapiro’s large-scale, mixed-media paintings can be viewed from the wall or in an otherworldly setting where she creates installations that you can walk inside of. Her work is driven by an insatiable need to inquire about the nature of how we perceive the world. Fascinated by color and process, Shapiro initially builds up her paintings by screen printing stencils of her drawings, then hand sewing the segments on raw muslin which she then brings to life with layers of painting. When viewed up closely, one can see the intricate details and hand-stitching of her screen printed drawings. A few artists she admires are Roy De Forest, Gustav Klimt, and Kerry James Marshall.
Shapiro’s holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University (2012), during which she spent a semester abroad at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey (2011).
An Interview with Laurie Shapiro:
Your work features has a mystical feel, has been called “otherworldly” and features goddess-like female figures throughout. What kind of spiritual place is this coming from?
The spiritual place that the work and the goddess female figures originate from, is from within. We are all trying to make sense of our lives. Since I was a kid, I’ve dealt with a lot of my feelings by writing them out. It might sound strange, but I get into this state of being where ideas just flow through me. This is an easier place to access when traveling. Everything has inspiration in it; I’m open enough to see it. Sometimes I’m driving, or walking, having a conversation, seeing strangers kissing – there’s a spiritual resonance in so many moments. Maybe I’m lost, or maybe I’m connected, but what I am most interested in representing the parts of our existence that elevate.
What are your thoughts on identifying as a female artist?
There are universal concepts that women, in particular, relate to. I only know this life through my own perception, and that is as a woman. However, my ideas on being a female artist have changed a lot since I’ve gotten older and moved to LA. In my best state of mind, I feel extremely grateful to be a female artist. Nonetheless, I do have my moments where I wonder if somebody is actually interested in my work, or wants something completely unrelated from me, which can make me frustrated and even sad. I take my work seriously, and it irritates me when I’m seen as less than that. A lot of people tell me that my work is as much me as it is the work. I accept this, but I wonder if this would be the case if I was a man.
The creation of Before You Were Born entailed long hours of meticulous work. What was your approach in tackling such a large-scale project?
I feel best when I’m creating; I enjoy having ongoing projects and deadlines. Some people deal with a breakup and major life change by dating new people, or going out a lot. I focused on my work and read some really interesting books. I am happiest when I spend long hours in the studio. The state of mind I mentioned earlier, of ideas flowing through me, often happens when I’m in a zone of creating. It’s a very meditative, reflective, and expansive process. However, for me to feel that it’s meaningful, I need to have those deadlines.
Before You Were Born had a line curling around the block for your opening. What advice would you give young artists looking to increase their visibility?
Be genuine and authentic and real. You can’t predict when things like that happen, just do what feels right and do your best work.
How have the creative communities you’ve lived in impacted you?
I grew up in Long Island, New York. Being an artist in “the real world” was something I didn’t know existed until I was at Carnegie Mellon University (in Pittsburgh, PA) for my BFA. In school, I was able to really focus and grow as an artist in a very supportive and nurturing environment. During my time at CMU, I traveled throughout the Middle East and Europe, including a semester in Ankara, Turkey. From 2012 – 2017, I lived in Oakland, CA and ran a print shop, working with lots of creative people. Now I’m in LA. Every place I have traveled and lived in has taught me more about humanity and broadened my perspective of the world.
Sometimes people ask me why I didn’t just stay in New York since fine art is my passion. When I was younger, I pictured myself living in NYC as an older woman. Life is about the journey, and I love learning – which happens most for me through experience.
What do you most look forward to with your upcoming collectors preview?
The collectors preview is on July 26th from 7pm to 1am. It will be a good chance for collectors and fans to preview new pieces before they go to de Plume on August 11th. This is also a great chance to visit my studio. A lot of people tell me they feel tranquil and peaceful in my space. Right now, the studio is transforming into a more immersive installation wonderland. Reserve your ticket here!