Our July Artist of the Month, Laura Tabakman, is an award-winning studio artist and teacher, whose work spans multiple mediums and disciplines and has been shown in galleries and art exhibitions nationally and internationally. In addition to being our Artist of the Month, Laura is also this quarter’s featured artist for the Janet Krieger Artist Spotlight. Read on to learn more about Laura and her creative practice.
Art is a reflection of society, it acts as a mirror, showing the beautiful and the ugly, transmitting emotions or rational ideas…
What is your artistic background?
I’ve been making, working with wire and weaving, since adolescence. I enjoy taking workshops to learn new things, but I’m mostly self-taught.
What are your favorite materials to work with/types of things to create?
I work with polymer clay, wire, textiles and recycled materials. Many times, incorporating photography and combining them in mixed media pieces. My work ranges from jewelry to sculpture, fiber art pieces and installations.
From where do you draw your inspiration?
I feel inspired by nature and its decay, and the way nature engineers the world. I’m eager to learn and develop unconventional uses for materials. I’m also intrigued by the vessel form.
How would you describe your work?
I work in different scales but there is always a repetition, be it in the way I produce a piece of jewelry by weaving wire and repeating a movement, or by repeating an element many times in an installation. The work has an organic feeling.
What is your creative process like?
I don’t plan my work completely ahead of time, I occasionally make very basic sketches to capture an idea. I allow room for improvisation and solving problems as I go. I am interested in the process and learning along the way. Many times, I see something and I want to capture some aspect about it, a form, a color, a texture, the way it works. I start by making one element and repeating it, exploring variations, without a plan or a general idea, and the idea develops as I start thinking on how to put them together.
What is the most rewarding thing about your practice?
When I solve a problem in a new way, and it works!
When people look at my work for a while and all of a sudden they smile, they got something new, there is a connection.
And what challenges do you face as an artist?
I’m not great at self-promotion, and that’s all I’ll say about myself.
Outside of your practice, do you do any other creative activities/what are your interests?
I am a member of the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh and I took care of the website and social media for many years. That meant learning how to do everything from scratch and developing my own ways.
I also enjoy being part of organizing community projects. I was part of the team that organized Knit the Bridge in Pittsburgh, and another three-person team organizing Into the Forest with over 300 artists from around the world. Working on both projects meant learning and coming up with ideas to bring them to fruition, something I’ve never done before.
What role does the artist have in society?
Art is a reflection of society, it acts as a mirror, showing the beautiful and the ugly, transmitting emotions or rational ideas; and hopefully the artist’s work makes people reflect on what they are seeing.
What is art/craft to you?
My hands need to be busy making. My mind needs to be learning something new and solving problems. My spirit needs to connect to other human beings. I fulfill all these needs by making art.
Tell us about your favorite artist or artists that inspire you.
There are many artists that inspire me: William Morris, Lee Bontecou, Chiharu Shiota, Arthur Ganson, Alexander Calder, Doris Caicedo, Ernesto Neto, Ann Weber, Cynthia Toops.
Janet Krieger was a painter, printmaker, ceramicist, and long-time supporter of CC. The spotlight is a gift by Karen Krieger and Karl Krieger, in tribute to Janet’s artistic career and desire to support working artists.