Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got to creating the work you are today.
My name is Laura Sellers, and I live in Asheville, N.C. I’ve been a painter all my life, and I’ve always been extremely inspired by our environment.
What does your work aim to say?
Some of my more minimalist and geometric pieces don’t say much; they are more like color experiments and tests. However, the abstract highwayscape series tries to illustrate how constant movement in automobiles is causing the warming of our environment.
Who are your artistic influences and what have you learned from them?
Currently I am inspired by mural artists like Felipe Pantone and Okuda San Miguel. I believe they are fracturing the picture plane, and they are creating murals that are for the greater public rather than just gallery or museum audience. I’m also in love with Yayoi Kusama and her infinity rooms. Her experimentations with light and fully wrapped rooms of polka dots are fascinating.
What internal and external factors motivate your conceptual choices?
External factors would probably include my commute to work and having a visitation with my divorced parents who lived in different states my entire life. I’ve always been on the road, so that inspired the road paintings. Internally I sometimes paint colors that correspond with the temperature outside or my mood.
How do you know when a work is finished?
The highwayscapes are finished when the wood panel has been filled with shapes of color all the way to the horizon line, but then I push this a little further by adding bridges and the drips that fracture the strict geometry in the painting.
I understand that you are teaching at the college level while trying to keep your own studio practice going. What are some of the biggest challenges in being a working artist? What parts are the most rewarding?
When I’m teaching, I have to put my own studio practice aside to make sure that I’m doing my job by making lesson plans, answering emails, etc. I also find teaching to be very inspiring however, and I like being constantly surrounded by students and educators interested in the arts. I also feel like passing on the tradition of painting is extremely important to keep it alive. I try to make work in the morning, then I drive an hour and 15 minutes to school, I teach at WCU at night, and drive back. It’s definitely a struggle, but summer and winter break help.
Is there something you are currently working on, or are excited about starting that you can tell us about?
Western Carolina University’s Fine Art Museum is about to have their Faculty Biennial exhibition, and I’ve been invited to participate. I’m not sure which paintings are going in yet, but I get pretty excited about any exhibitions in museums. When I show in galleries, there is an expectation to sell some of the work, but museum exhibitions take the stress and commodification out of it for me, since museum exhibitions only show the work.
What piece of advice has influenced you the most?
I had a critique right before my graduate school defense with an artist named Jamie Adams. He told me that I didn’t need to be worried, because my work was strong, and that I should be proud of what I’ve accomplished. I feel like it’s very hard to value yourself sometimes as an artist, and his pep talk led me in to my defense with my head held high. And I passed! I’ve tried to take that same sentiment and apply for things that I don’t think I’m good enough or ready for.
What is the role of the artist in society?
When I was younger, I thought it was enough to make art that was beautiful. Now I know there is power in art, and it should be used to help people and the environment.
Where do you feel art is going?
I believe art is becoming highly political, and I think that female artists are finally getting some time in the spot light. Art is also becoming outrageously over priced in the world art market, and there’s a strong division between the social status of the artist and the social status of the collector. It’s definitely an interesting time to be an artist, and I feel something big is going to happen with the art world in the future.
If you could be any fictional character, whom would you choose?
Michelangelo from the ninja turtles. He lives in the sewer, does ninja stuff, and eats pizza. He also has a famous painters name. What more could you want?