We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Davidson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura, why did you pursue a creative career?
Creating visual work has always been essential to maintaining my well-being. I use slow processes of sewing by hand and making paper by hand as a form of meditation. My artwork seeks to connect viewers back to themselves, in a world that pushes us to distract ourselves, from ourselves and our immediate surroundings, as frequently as possible. There is an importance in the appreciation of objects that we create ourselves. I try to connect students with this as a counter to a culture that consumes and disposes of objects daily without thought for how these objects came to be, or where they will end up.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I taught public elementary and high school art in Dallas while writing curriculum and development for art teachers from 2013-2019. I took a detour from art teaching and served students and teachers at her elementary campus as a reading interventionist from 2019-2021. I currently teach middle school art in Euless for Oil & Cotton.
In my art practice, I’m interested in the objects that we collect and keep as a kind of modern anthropology. I repurpose paper and domestic materials into my work, both from a compulsion to create from abundant waste and as exploration of nostalgia and our attachment to objects. I seek to develop low waste art practices to divert waste items from landfills. For the past few years this has manifested as objects sculpted from recycled paper pulp and repurposed fabric for fiber works and installations. I’ve held studio spaces at The Platform and Sunset Art Studios, and currently have a studio as a part of Cohort 3 of The Cedars Union Arts Incubator.
I’m currently exploring two bodies of work, one with paper pulp and another with soft sculpture. My work with paper is, at its core, a result of my need to divert waste into objects of value. The previous use of the papers shredded into the pulp give the objects symbolic meaning beyond their aesthetic. The act of tearing and breaking down documents, jotted thoughts, and other remnants of our daily lives connects us to the impermanence of these moments. As they are reformed into new papers or cast objects, the essence of the materials’ old life remains, though often unrecognizable. The papers’ original content may have been precious or important, but like everything else in our lives was fleeting. Completed artworks may be broken back down into pulp and reformed into new pieces again and again.
Often my fiber artwork starts with a found material from a garage sale or thrift shop, is added to my collection, and transforms from my original idea as I create. I prefer slow processes of sewing and weaving by hand; they give me a reprieve from our culture obsessed with efficiency. Text is included to form direct communication and connection with the viewer. These repetitive tasks serve as meditation and give me time to process and edit the final artwork.
I’ve recently been invited to join 500x gallery as a member for their upcoming season. 500X Gallery is one of Texas’ oldest, artist run, cooperative galleries. The gallery was established in 1978 to provide a space for artists to exhibit free of outside influences and dealer restrictions. I’ll be helping host group and solo shows within the space, and will have a solo show of my work in 2023.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Anyone visiting Dallas needs to explore The Tin District and Oak Cliff. I would recommend starting your Saturday afternoon with a visit to 500x gallery, and check out the shows at Sweetpass Sculpture Park, Cluley Projects, and Daisha Board Gallery while you’re in the neighborhood. Drop by Tyler Station to find a snack and drink, and stop by Trade Oak Cliff to purchase some artwork created by local women artists. Schedule a tour at The Cedars Union to see more local artists at work. The Latino Cultural center and Oak Cliff Cultural center also consistently host artwork from local artists that you’ll want to explore.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Will Heron has been a great friend over the years and helped me to find my way back to my art practice after years forgoing it. My first studio outside of my home was at an abandoned house that he turned into a studio and gallery space in West Dallas called The Platform. This was also a place where I showed work, participated in art walks, and connected with other artists and art patrons for the first time. This was the tipping point of me finding my voice as a working artist, and I am forever grateful for his mentorship. Watching him experiment with different entrepreneurial avenues as a working artist taught me how to put myself out into the art world and find the people who connect with my work.