Laura Stack juxtaposes organic and synthetic at Rosalux Gallery

From Float Series by Laura Stack

From Float Series by Laura Stack

Interior of the Exterior," the current exhibition at Rosalux Gallery, juxtaposes the organic with the synthetic in unsettling ways. Mixed media artist Laura Stack pulls from her background as a drawer and painter, as well as a graphic design artist, to create a jarring body of work that forces together worlds that are fundamentally opposite. 


Stack says she has recently become interested in creating hypernatural organisms existing in computer space. Playing with geometric shapes inspired from her graphic design experience with the improvisational organism, she came upon a "primordial soup" that mirrored what is going on in the world in such industries as nano technology and genetic engineering.  
Although Stack doesn't have a science background, her father was a mathematician which she says has influenced her. And though she paints with her right hand, she uses her left when on the computer, so both sides of her brain are constantly at work.  

A number of Stack's pieces in the current show contain some sort of synthetic 3-D form, such as the Archimedean solid in Float #18, where the shape coasts incongruously amidst an improvisationally created work of graphite and ink. The synthetic shapes, usually painted with turquoise and green gouache, seem out of place. The effect is startling.  

The few pieces that don't have the synthetic forms, that are simply an experimentation of ink and graphite, using patterns that are then often washed over, are much more pleasing to look at. Works such as Float #25, where eyeball creatures peak out amidst the amoeba-like  patterns, or Float #23, have a most pleasing brown wash amidst the black splotchy shapes.  
What is it about the juxtaposition pieces that are so uncomfortable? Perhaps the effect is similar to eating a piece of chicken, or even a strawberry, and finding out about all the hormones or genetically engineered processing that is involved in creating that piece of food. It's much more appetizing to simply eat it and not think about the scientific add-ons.  

It's not that Stack's synthetic shapes are ominous. In fact, they are quite playful, especially compared to the inorganic sides of the paintings, which explore organisms both coming into being and also their decay. However, despite their perkiness their presence has an uncomfortableness about them.  

Two of the pieces in the show demonstrate a new direction in Stack's work. She created Float #5 just before the exhibition show opened. She also says that she had a number of pieces that felt unfinished, so they were pulled together in a collage. The effect is gorgeous. By intuitively piecing together the different worlds, Stack is able to create something  that is much more diversified. The result seems more finished than the earlier pieces do.  
To see the work for yourself, check out Rosalux Gallery, where the show will be up through December 29. There is also an artist talk on December 11 from 2 to 3 p.m. at the gallery, which is located at 1224 Second Street Northeast in Minneapolis. For more info, visit