You heard it here: This young artist is one to watch. In celebration of her participation in the group exhibition, Leave a Mark, we talked to Deems about her textile design history, fun and funky tools, and how she titles her work.
Meyer Vogl Gallery: Your background is in fabric design. What triggered the switch from textiles to visual art?
Laura Deems: I’ve always been drawn to textiles and their dimensions. That originally led me to studying fabric design as an undergrad. But as I progressed in the program, I found that my marks weren’t structured enough. They were loose and tended to break out of the grid-like form that pattern-making calls for. My professors encouraged this kind of unconventional exploration, but I knew the idea of translating textile marks into paintings was more intriguing to me. It had more of a personality and a story.
MVG: Tell us about how your work today incorporates elements of textile design.
LD: I rarely use a traditional paint brush. I use a little bit of everything — a rag, a squeegee, kitchen tools. And I use things we would use in the dye lab or in screen printing. That is my language. If I was told to paint on a primed canvas with a filbert brush, it would take me a hot second to get my rhythm down.
MVG: What would you like for viewers to take away from your work?
LD: I think just to feel something. To be evoked in some way. I try to make it relatable by the titles; that is the viewers’ gateway in. They can take what they can from them and run with it. I love the idea of viewers making the work into something of their own.
MVG: I love the titles of your work (for example: Snippity Snip Yoko Ono. So good!). Where-oh-where do they come from?
LD: I love them, too. I have way too much fun with them. I’ll normally be reading and come across some stuffy critique explaining a body of work in terms that half of the general public would be entirely flabbergasted by, and I’ll try to summarize it in a phrase. A quickie if you will. Light-hearted and to the point in a cultural-awareness sense.
MVG: You’re a Charleston newbie. What are your favorite spots?
LD: I am a huge fan of The Ordinary — the bar seating is prime. Hampden Clothing is an all-time favorite. All of the stylists are so helpful and have such a vision. Goat Sheep Cow, Vintage, Fig, Xiao Bao Biscuit, R Kitchen, and Luke’s for pizza on the beach are fab.
Read more about Deems in the Charleston City Paper’s recent article about Leave a Mark.