Number 39: Laura Stack
Years spent living in MN: 20 years
In the work of artist Laura Stack synthetic and organic forms coexist. Cell structures multiply, fade, and regenerate while colorful geometric shapes casually float nearby. It's a strangely abstract world that intriguingly manages to combine the complexity of biology with the rigidity of geometry and other mathematics.
Stack currently works as an art instructor at the College of Visual Arts, and is also a member of the Rosalux Gallery, which recently celebrated 10 years as a collective gallery space.
The intersection of biology and technology. Specifically, how the new sciences of synthetic biology and nanotechnology blur our perspective of what is nature and what is synthetic. For anyone who is interested, the recent book, What is Life: Investigating the Nature of Life in the Age of Synthetic Biology by Ed Regis is accessible reading on this subject for those, like myself, who are not scientists.
Margaret Atwood's and Michael Crichton's dystopian novels: Oryx and Crake and After the Flood (Atwood) and Prey (Crichton).
Ernst Haeckel, a biologist and artist whose illustrations of microscopic organisms from the early 1900s present some of the first views of microscopic life.
Name three things that inspired and/or motivated you as a budding creative type:
The early discovery that making art is a form of contemplation and an outlet for my imagination.
My art teachers. I was fortunate to have encouraging art teachers in high school, undergraduate, and graduate art school. These teachers took me under their wing, and acknowledged my hard work and enthusiasm.
My parents who trusted my judgment and encouraged me to pursue art.
What was your last big project?
Creating a body of artwork for two solo shows back to back, one in December 2010 and one in January 2011.
What do you have going on now or coming up in the near future that should be on our radar?
I have a two-person show with Valerie Jenkins this June 2012 at Rosalux Gallery in northeast Minneapolis. The large gallery space is ideal to show my large-scale mixed-media work on paper and smaller ink/graphite drawings. Both Valerie and I are members of Rosalux Gallery. The exhibition events include an opening reception and a gallery talk in the beginning of June. (Visit www.rosaluxgallery.com mid-May for details on my June exhibition.)
What has been your creative/career high point (so far)?
An exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MAEP) with Anne Sugnet. Anne and I proposed a two-person show of our work. It was uncanny how well our two bodies of work related. Viewers thought the show was the work of one artist, yet Anne and I did not see each other's artwork prior to the exhibit opening. The museum staff where fabulous in promoting the show and helping us install the art. To our delight, the show was reviewed in Art in America, Art Papers, New Art Examiner, and the Star Tribune.
What has been your biggest challenge as a creative type?
The challenge for me is balancing all the roles I play and trying to do my best in each of these roles. I am an artist, art instructor (at the College of Visual Arts), mother, partner, and friend. I love all these roles, but wish I could accept that there are only so many hours in a day.
How has the Minnesota scene changed since you began working here?
When I moved here 20 years ago, the downtown Minneapolis warehouse district was a thriving arts community of centrally located commercial galleries. I was fortunate to be part of that community when I worked at Thomas Barry Fine Arts as gallery assistant. It has changed dramatically since. Currently, there is not a centrally located arts district; instead, art galleries are spread throughout the city.
The biggest change I have noticed is that artists are creating their own art venues rather than depending on commercial and alternative galleries. Rosalux Gallery in northeast Minneapolis was one of the first collectives run by artist members and it just celebrated its 10-year anniversary. Newer artist-run galleries include Form + Content, Shoebox Gallery, Cult Status, and Tarnish & Gold to name a few.
What has been your most surprising discovery as an artist?
How differently I look at and navigate through the world compared to mainstream culture in the united States. Outside of my artist friends, I don't know many people who make things. I can spend hours looking at and drawing an ordinary object such as a pine cone where most people do not even notice the pine cone. This aspect of being an artist is a gift.
See more of Laura Stack's work at laurastackart.com.
Do you have a suggestion for someone whose work we should be checking out? Feel free to leave your top picks in the comments.
Past creatives, so far: