Magic From The Mundane
by Elizabeth Michelman
It’s not hard to discern how Laura Evans’ ironic objects are made — it’s what they’re made for that’s puzzling. Her forms are pithy and precise. Her structures are paradoxical until one relates to them through bodily experience. Evans puts together the most mundane of materials and found objects — folded paper bags and their non-paper offspring, cardboard tubes cut up and refitted, cloth, plaster and chicken-wire, plumbing apparatus and knobs and handles of all sorts.
One is tempted to embrace and grasp these objects as the artist has done. The power is in the joints and the absurdity of their connections, both inwardly and outwardly. It’s also in the vitality with which they reach out to us. Strangely seductive, they ask us to withstand their inscrutability, to trust and come closer, and to submit to the feelings they engage in our bodies.
I have not forgotten how, 20 years ago in the Barbara Krakow Gallery, a cluster of ordinary paper bags — prodded, caressed and stiffened — beckoned to me from the floor with an unmistakable presence. Visiting Evans’ studio in late January, I asked about the beginnings of her work. In a world that tends to marginalize artists who balance child rearing with their art-making, it was a relief to discover a sculptor whose creative leap had occurred in response to carrying a child.
Laura Evans: When I was pregnant with my fourth kid, I worried I’d be out of commission for a while again. When I went out for coffee and a muffin before the studio, I would always save the bags. I painted on them, collaged on them, drew on them, one a day, for a year. Then I wondered, “Why am I dealing with just the surface of the bag, why don’t I open it up?” I started using Mylar and translucent materials so you could see into it. Later, I cast the bags with cast stone and Hydrocal, had rubber molds made and did some outdoor pieces – also bronze versions.
Michelman: Always a new gesture!
That’s what happens when I get close to a material. I tend to zone-in on the intimacy end. Installation is challenging for me. I want to have some smaller details, so your sense of space is large in some areas, then brought down to the tiny little twig in others.