Laura Hunt

Artist Information

Laura Hunt

My art career began at age 16 when I respond­ed to a “Draw Me Tal­ent Test,” an adver­tise­ment placed in a farm mag­a­zine by Art Instruc­tion Schools in Min­neapo­lis. It went on to include over 30 years as a graph­ic design­er. Dur­ing that time I honed my design skills for the prac­ti­cal pur­pose of mar­ket­ing my clients’ busi­ness­es. My focus shift­ed in 2013 when I sold my busi­ness, afford­ing me the time and space to con­cen­trate on my fine art stu­dio prac­tice. Now, rather than cre­at­ing to help mar­ket prod­ucts and ser­vices, I cre­ate for the pur­pose of ele­vat­ing the lives of those touched by my art.

My sub­ject, the human fig­ure, has cho­sen me. Hav­ing gone through stages of inter­est in sev­er­al gen­res, I always find myself return­ing to por­traits and fig­ures. I’m drawn to the emo­tion expressed by the ges­ture of a hand or the tilt of a head. I’m fas­ci­nat­ed by the divine spark, the infi­nite vari­ety of the human face, and the tiny dif­fer­ences that make each of us our unique selves. Themes of human rela­tion­ships and emo­tion, social issues and empa­thy bind the work togeth­er. Although my work has a nat­u­ral­is­tic foun­da­tion, I am unin­ter­est­ed in cre­at­ing aca­d­e­m­i­cal­ly per­fect fig­u­ra­tive work. I pre­fer a more expres­sive approach that is less about visu­al accu­ra­cy and more about the human expe­ri­ence. It is often the play of light and shad­ow across the face or the body that first draws me in. I draw from life in a tiny sketch­book I keep handy to record inter­est­ing pos­tures. The­aters and gath­er­ings pro­vide venues for fill­ing it with draw­ings of people—from the back. I rum­mage through fam­i­ly pho­tos to unearth grainy images of uniden­ti­fied rel­a­tives and quirky strangers from yore. I’m not above sneak­ing a snap of some­one in a com­pelling ges­ture and adding it to my pho­to library. Friends pose for pho­to ses­sions to fur­ther fill my bank of ref­er­ences. And some­times pure imag­i­na­tion stim­u­lates the cre­ative process. All are at play in my search for that cer­tain arche­typ­al human qual­i­ty to express in a work of art. I begin by dig­i­tal­ly edit­ing my pho­to­graph­ic image, empha­siz­ing con­trast and sim­pli­fy­ing shapes. The result becomes my ref­er­ence. I work with acrylic paint on my favorite sur­face, cra­dled wood pan­els. I like their crisp cor­ners, and how they feel like con­tain­ers hold­ing some­thing mys­te­ri­ous and beau­ti­ful. After apply­ing ges­so to the pan­el, I cov­er it with orange, turquoise, metal­lic cop­per or what­ev­er feels right. That lay­er influ­ences the over­all pres­ence of the paint­ing, peek­ing through gaps to ener­gize the work. Pat­terned paper scraps or torn vin­tage maps ani­mate the pic­ture plane. Out­lines and the sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of details lend a sym­bol­ic qual­i­ty to my fig­ures. And scrap­ing paint right across an almost com­plet­ed work is anoth­er tech­nique I use to shift the sub­ject from spe­cif­ic indi­vid­ual to uni­ver­sal arche­type. My influ­ences include anony­mous folk and trib­al artists of Africa and the Amer­i­c­as, and the Abstract Expres­sion­ists. I deeply admire the fig­u­ra­tive works of David Bates for its bold styl­iza­tion, David Park for his con­fi­dent expres­sive­ness, and Cather­ine Kehoe for her mas­tery of sim­pli­fi­ca­tion of the human fig­ure. When I see their work, I feel affirmed in my direc­tion as I seek my own ver­sion of those ideals. 
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