Laura Erekson Atkinson is a talented artist with a new project called Builders. She received a BFA at Brigham Young University and focused on drawing, painting, printmaking, and sculpture. She was profiled previously on The Krakens for her series Spontaneity of Trees. Atkinson lives with her family in Utah.
Tell us about the Builders series. When I got married, a friend (who knew me well) gave me a Home Depot gift card. Inside was a note: “Build a beautiful life together.” As cheesy as that may seem, that phrase stuck with me. The Builders series is about just that–building. Each title was taken from the scriptures in order to lead the viewer to a consideration of all levels of building–building ourselves, building each other, building our relationships with others, and with God.
What is your process? My process is generally very intuitive, and I work with the things that I love (in this case, tools!). I spent the most time with each piece deciding on the initial tools and how they should lie in the space. Then I layered the canvas with gesso and pressed the tools into their positions. I sometimes used ink, and sometimes left the piece raw, with only the rust or residue of the tools adding color to the piece. Color can either make or break a piece. Adding color was possibly the most difficult decision I had to make with each one. I loved the purity of the white with rust residue and was hesitant to add any color at all. Then I reminded myself that I had the freedom to experiment! And so I did. Creating should be fresh and fun, and the only one putting limitations on my work was me. I ended up feeling really happy with the results.
So much of Mormon art is traditional or realistic. What would you like to see from Mormon artists in the future? I wanted to present a body of work that was personal and spoke to important religious themes while allowing room for the viewer to interpret the piece (even if they aren’t religious). I thrive on creating abstract art and hope that it creates a more personal experience for the viewer, giving them space to apply meanings that are important to them. I know that abstract work often heightens my own experience and inspires me. I look forward to seeing more Mormon art that breaks through traditional barriers.
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