We here at Fugue were not only lucky enough to have Chicago artist Laura Berger's beautiful piece "Spaces Between" grace the cover of our latest online issue—we also got to pick her brain a bit about her process and artistic vision:
FUGUE: Your work has such a distinctive unity to it all—the colors, the geometry, the little figures—yet each piece is so unique. Could you explain, a little, the evolution of your style, and what the process of honing it was like over the years?
LAURA BERGER: Thanks! It's been a long slow journey so far—I just make as much work as I can, and my style has naturally changed over the course of many years and is now where it is now. It's always changing in small ways. I think that's pretty much how it goes, and that my style and what I'm interested in painting will continue to slowly evolve as I continue being alive and working. It makes sense to me that creative work is reflective of our experiences, all of the different things we take in, how we integrate those things into who we are, and how we filter them (or don't) when we're creating something.
F: I see you work with ceramics and animations in addition to print-making. What do the particular nuances of these different mediums offer your overall aesthetic? How do you decide which vision would be best represented by which medium?
LB: My main medium was painting, and then I started getting images in my head of some quick little moving scenes, so I taught myself some very basic animation. Then I thought it would be fun to make some of the figures in 3D, so I started working with sculpture. They all kind of feed each other—working in each one gives me the opportunity to see things from a slightly different perspective and also to add to my understanding of my work in another medium. For example, working with ceramics helps me relate to the form and body postures of my figures in a more complete way, which I can then take back into my paintings. I get new ideas from bouncing around these different formats, and it helps keep me from getting restless or bored.
F: Who are some of your artistic influences?
LB: I love Hilma af Klimt, Carmen Herrera, Antonio Frasconi, Moholy Nagy, Yayoi Kusama, Sol LeWitt... There are obviously so many artists to love. I'm also inspired by old Nayarit and pre-Columbian sculpture, Native American ledger art, and Japanese prints.
F: The colors are perfect! Could you maybe talk about where your color palette “comes from”?
LB: That part of the process is pretty instinctual, or intuitive, for me. Sometimes I'll play around with different color combinations before I actually paint the piece, but mostly I just choose them as I work. A lot of times I'll dislike how something looks and change the color several times—so it's definitely not a fool-proof or straightforward process. It's interesting to think about how artists use color differently when working and why they make the choices they do. I'm not sure I know the answer, but it's cool!
F: Your work so expertly juggles multiple motifs, but the most immediate, to me, seems to be the human body—specifically its bareness, its curvatures and natural harmonies. How would you articulate some of your major themes or concerns as an artist?
LB: I'm interested in exploring a lot of different things in my work, but if I had to pick a few, I'd say I'm pretty focused in on self-understanding, our interconnectedness, our collective search for meaning, and our interaction and relationship with the natural world.
F: Lastly—where can people find your work next (aside from online at www.lauraberger.com)?
LB: I'm currently working on two screen-prints and a handful of paintings inspired by my recent trip to Peru with The Jaunt, which we'll be launching in collaboration with 3sixteen at their shop in LA at the end of July. I'll also have a new piece at Spoke Art in San Francisco for their NSFW group show in August. I post stuff on Instagram, too, like we all do.
Thank you to Laura Berger for being a part of our new issue! Be sure to check out more of her work online, and to check out her piece—and the slew of amazing poems, stories, and essays in Issue 52.