Nancy Staub Laughlin
AFA: As an artist who has had a solo exhibit in Chelsea and exhibited in museums as well as being critically acclaimed, what has led you up to this point?
Nancy Staub Laughlin: Number one, I would say confidence in my work is a huge factor in my success. Secondly, persistence and having a strong business sense has been essential. I am efficient and organized and can be the squeaky wheel. The trick is to know the fine line of over stepping the boundaries that could immediately put you in the no pile. Number three, it is so important to have your work constantly evolve, without losing your signature style. The ultimate compliment was having the late Sam Hunter, art historian/critic say to me, “I’ve never seen anything like this!” I will say, I have worked incredibly hard to be where I am now, but I am always planning for the next venue. I have a one person exhibit March 2017 at the Nancy Dryfoos Gallery, Kean University in New Jersey. I have been working on clinching the next exhibit, hopefully for 2019. Stay tuned….
AFA: The art critic, Sam Hunter, of Princeton University, wrote about your works being "[a] magical, fragmented still life and landscape reward us richly with the briefly perceived objects of a demanding vision, gloriously, dynamically reflected through the finely distorting fluidities of a fantastic water world". Could you explain to the reader about this essay and this "fantastic water world”?
Nancy Staub Laughlin: When I had the honor of Sam Hunter review my work, at the time, I was doing a series of pastels that involved submerging objects in the water. Water was a very common theme in all the drawings, with hence “this fantastic water world”. However, his other descriptions of my work from this quote, even though they were describing a previous series, still pertain to my current work. I still have “a demanding vision” that rewards the viewer “gloriously and dynamically”. I have stayed true to my unique self.
AFA: Curator, Ingrid Fox, wrote of your work as "Objects are added or subtracted and the end result creates an effervescence, sparkle and glow, which makes the inanimate come alive and brings all elements together as one." and Kate Somers, a curator at Princeton University described your work as individualized and described you as an "alchemist". What makes your work come alive in this alchemical process?
Nancy Staub Laughlin: I see the world in a different way than most people. I have an intuition to find glow and sparkle 24/7. In my drawings, I use my fascination of “sparkle and glow” and combine nature vs. glitter to put it simply. The kinetic aspect of each drawing brings the viewers eye around the drawing like “connect the dots”. The key is to capture and execute the landscape and the baubles artistically so the viewer can enter my beautiful world I have created.
Mastering pastels as a medium is crucial in the outcome of a successful drawing. There are many layers of pastel to create the depths and glows. The tricky part is not over working the pastel when blending or else the colors become muted and muddy. I work with many brands of pastel: hard to soft in order to blend properly. The added photograph in my assemblage; pastel/photograph series, accentuates and compliments the sparkle found in nature.
AFA: There seems to be a very contemporary mysticism contained within the art. Like as if there is a story to tell. Is there?
Nancy Staub Laughlin: There really isn’t a story, per say. My work captures the viewer and takes one on a scenic tour of my perceptive world. You are seeing through my eyes. I will find beauty and glow in just about anything! No matter where I am, I am drawn to sparkle.
AFA: Why do you use neon, pastel, and neutral (black and white) colors together?
Nancy Staub Laughlin: This is a tough question without a drawing to use as a reference, but I will say that the combination of these three types of color is what gives the drawing contrast, depth and interest. They also represent the seasons of color. The blacks ,grays and whites creates the winter palette. Black is also strongly used in the shadows to create the three dimensional effect of depth. The pastel hues depict the early spring, summer season and the neons are the fall. The colors I use, are the colors I see.
AFA: You have such a unique voice contained within the works, what advice would you give to people who aspire to become artists to reach such a destination?
Nancy Staub Laughlin: For those who aspire to be an artist, you were born with a creative voice. One can perfect amd learn new mediums; learn new processes, but the bottom line is, you must have innate talent. Stay true to who you are; don't follow the trend; and keep at it. Do not give up.
I will say that being an artist is not for the meek. Being an artist is basically applying for a new job every one has to prove over and over again who you are. That is assuming one can even get to the right person to tell your story. I have to say, this is a question I am asked quite a bit. I am honored that I am recognized as unique…this is the ultimate compliment!
AFA: What are your thoughts on the mediums of pastel and photography and the synergy you use between them?
Nancy Staub Laughlin: I LOVE pastels. I have learned how to control them after many years of working with them. I use my photography to capture moments that my keen eye will see; a glimmer of reflection; lights in the night, or an amazing landscape with the light glowing perfectly. I use these moments or photographs in my layered “stills” to create the appropriate balance of translucency, layering and glitter. In my newest series, I have created a new concept of the “still life” working with pastels on paper and photography. After photographing my “stills”, the photograph is used as a reference to complete the final drawing. These “assemblages”, actually incorporate the photograph into the pastel. These dynamic, layered assemblages allow the viewer to enter my world of color, light, dimension and beauty from a different perspective. They are the culmination of many carefully executed steps that define my distinctive creative process. I envelope the viewer, play with the balance of nature vs. glitter and unveil my glowing and unique world .