Culture

Quilt Artist Laura Gadson on Artists She Admires and the Beauty of Blackness

Wed., Jun. 13, 2012 6:30 AM EST
by Yvette Caslin

Veteran quilt and craft artist Laura Gadson has been on the art scene since 2000. Most notably, she was instrumental in forming the  Strivers Art Circuit in 2008, an extension of the Harlem Open Artist Studio Tour (HOAST) to celebrate the artistic prowess of visual and performance artists.

Gadson will be a part of an upcoming art show Strivers Gardens Gallery Presents “eMerge: Danny Simmons and Artists on the Cusp,” with an opening reception on Thursday, July 12, 2012. Here, she discusses finding her passion, what inspires her and the process of quilting. –yvette caslin

Website
www.thegadsongallery.com

Twitter/Facebook:
Laura Gadson on FB

What can art enthusiasts expect to see from you at eMerge?
Work that exemplifies my portrait quilt style and a new work in a style I am currently developing. As I explore the world of fiber art techniques and visit the worlds of colleague artists, I am always inspired to grow. The world of quilting is vast and I add my own layer to it and the world of mixed media.

Tell me about the process of making your pieces.
Much of my work starts with an idea that involves research into the subject matter. It sometimes involves the exploration of an additional technique or medium. Often this process can take as long as the making of the artwork. This is the mental part. To create the physical work, there is palette and fabrics selection, the creation of the quilt top through cutting, painting, sewing and more. Then, there is the quilting step where all layers of my work are bound together through sewing, usually by machine. The final step includes any sort of hand embellishment, which can incorporate the use of markers, paints, oil pastels, beads, buttons and hand sewing.

At what age did you declare ‘I’m an artist?’
I was born an artist and have always thought creatively … always making or repurposing something from a very early age. I spent my youth studying both dance and the visual arts. My father, a commercial and fine artist, always steered me in that direction; but I spent my young adulthood as a dancer. As I matured, I heavily embraced the craft and fine arts taking it more seriously when became acquainted with quilting in 2000. Joining the Harlem Arts Alliance in the mid 2000s helped me to claim the making of visual art a career path. The monthly meetings helped me to declare to myself and others who I have always been.

What is your proudest accomplishment to date?
My biggest project to date would be the purchase and glacially-influenced development of my Harlem home, gallery, studio space. I have been exhibited, published, and featured on TV — both here and abroad. I am proudest of the community of artists I have the pleasure knowing and sometimes working with including Xenobia Bailey, Michael Cummings, Hollis King and Jerry Gant. Communities like this are what made the Harlem Renaissance.

What is your greatest inspiration?
Life and it’s daily goings-on are great inspiration for expression. I also greatly enjoy being a griot of the African American story and featuring the “Beauty of Blackness” in my work.

What kind of satisfaction do you get from your work? What kind of satisfaction do you want me to get?

I am in love with creating. My mind is always working and I have not had nearly enough opportunity to make manifest every creative thought that I had. I love having my work enjoyed by others not just to make a sale but to know that it will be cherished and featured in someone’s home.

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