"q & art" is an isavirtue series which features interviews with amazing contemporary artists. today i am featuring the mysterious collage work of lara scarr:
artist lara scarr: when i was a kid – the standard answer! it’s true though, when i was young i was always making art.
q: could you ever make a “vanilla” painting using just paint? how did you end up using such a variety of materials?
ls: before i went to university i only did oil paintings. but in school they push you to go outside your comfort zone. so i then i did everything but oil painting. i had to do a drawing project using anything – so i thought i would try drawing with a sewing machine - using just paint and thread on canvas.
i was also taking photography, and along with drawing and painting i put all of it together to see what came out. people really seemed to like it! so i used to do very traditional oil painting but i don’t think i could ever go back to that. for me i find it very limiting.
q: do the strips of text in your work hold a deeper meaning? are they taken from a specific source or are they arbitrary? do you type them or find them?
ls: i bought a package with two thousand fonts, got rid of the ones i didn’t like and i use the rest to type up sentances. i really like text and font – i’m starting graphic design school in september so as you can see there is a natural progression there. i also have a fascination with the book “walden” by [henry david] thoreau. it’s about him going out into nature, finding himself, and getting away from everything man-made and convenient. so i go back and i pull out quotes from “walden” because it’s good material. i generally break the text up anywhere but sometimes if it’s a really meaningful or beautiful sentence, i’ll try to keep it in one piece so that you can actually read it.
q: in an interview with you on youtube, you state that your inspiration likely comes from a variety of places - or it could just be bullshit. what’s your take on artists whose work is convoluted and wrapped up in methodology?
ls: i think that artists are always trying to validate themselves (though i’m only speaking from my own experience), but i think artists believe people don’t take them as seriously as other professions. they believe their work has to have meaning in order for it to have worth. although they may have a message and it may be true to what they are producing, a lot of the times i think they just fluff it up in order for it to sound meaningful, expensive and worthy of affection or attention. i think 95% of the time it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. for me, sometimes i just put it down, and i like the way it looks. it’s just pretty - and that’s fine.
q: i love your work because of its mecurial nature. it is seemingly charming with soft colours, fluid lines and the use of traditional stitching. but upon closer look, the imagery is really quite eerie and creepy. why do you choose the subject matter you do?
ls: there’s a lot of repetitive images in my work. there’s a lot of skull references, which in my opinion, doesn’t necessarily represent death. skulls mean a lot of different things in different cultures. in a lot of cultures they are a celebration of life. if you are looking for a theme – i definitely have a strong bond with nature….but i do really like it when things are a little bit dark, and creepy and scary – that’s beautiful to me!
q: nowadays so many artists leave the stretched canvas as is. why do you frame most of your works?
ls: it’s easier for me to frame it. but it also makes it look less kitschy. it lets people see [my work] as actual art versus craft. there’s a really fine line between what i’m doing and craft. i’m not say that in a bad way – i love craft! but people won’t pay for craft. i do want [my work] to be seen as a form of fine art. i think framing really helps to achieve that. and most of the time i pick a frame, refurbish it and then i make a piece of art to go in it. in that way the frame is a large part of the piece. a lot of the frames i find are from home sense and garage sales, but some are much older (like a recent one i gave to view gallery, it was eighty-five years old). there’s history within it and i like that.
q: is art a full time career for you? if not, do you believe it can be?
ls: no, it’s not and for me, i don’t think it can be. i would love it if i could make a living off of art. i’ve tried, and i don’t think i could try any harder than i have. in two years i did almost fifty exhibits. i was out there, emailing every day, having shows. i don’t know what it takes! i realize my art isn’t the most saleable – it’s for a specific crowd. but i’m also going to do graphic design which allows me to make a living doing something creative that i love to do. i’m not going to get some shitty job because that just dampens your creative spirit.
q: do you see yourself as altering what people’s idea of textile art is?
ls: i write about this issue in my cv. i don’t like to say “fabric art” or “textile art” because people have preconceived notions of what that is. you wrote about it on your blog - people have an idea of these lacy, crocheted, ugly tapestries of scenery. i don’t think my art really classifies in that catergory because there’s so many different things going on within it. it’s more collage than textile, but i do like the fact that people say “i’ve never seen textile art like this.” i do like that some people change their opinions of these types of art based on mine. it’s not my goal but if it’s a by-product than that is fabulous.