In the Studio: Process of a Painting with Laura Lark

Laura Lark (NAP #102) has been making pointillist portraits and video installations for the past decade.  Painstakingly detailed and almost obsessive in artistic process and dot application (similar in methodology but even more precise than someone like Bonard Hughins), her portraits result in a delicate and even nostalgic aesthetic that walks a fine line; the softness of the images is almost undermined by the painstaking efforts it takes Lark to complete them.  Seeing the miniscule details and knowing the time and potential agony involved in creating such works opens a window to viewers and makes the work far more complex than the surface of a portrait.

1. installation
Installation view of Simulacra, Gaddis Geeslin Gallery, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX. Ted Kincaid | Laura Lark | Shawn Smith, Curated by Michael Henderson, October 3 - 27, 2011.

Her work evokes mixed emotions: I found myself feeling sensitivity towards those portrayed, while also feeling a foreboding sense of anxiety as I contemplated the familiarity of the subject’s face and wondered why/how/and if I knew them, even though I knew I didn’t… Here, Lark’s end product, is not the portrait itself, but the video that captures both her process and the passage of time.  In documenting her creation of and reflection upon ephemera, there is something of a meta-narrative running through her work that speaks not just to time, but to memory, fleetingness, and permanence all at once. - Ellen Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor

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Laura Lark, Aura.  Video still 1.

In this Process of a Painting, we follow Lark through her video Aura and a number of the video’s stills that help to animate and visualize her process.  Besides the meticulous detail and dedication needed to compose each massive work dot-by-single-dot, Lark intensified the already-time-consuming process by taking one photo for every ten dots she made.

Laura Lark, Aura.  The woman "appearing" in the video is Ann-margret, an icon of the period Lark likes to address, and the music, equally relevant for the period subject matter, is Henry Mancini's "Lujon."

In her own words, Lark discusses her video as a monument to time and memory:

Laura Lark: The work--all of it, each and every component of every installation is about time – the passage of time.  But the video is "bigger" in certain ways, as it alludes to the original pop cultural references of a time that has passed: what's handed down, genetically and psychologically, and how, in trying to reproduce the elements of the era that resonate with me psychologically, it also documents and emphasizes the passing of time elapsing during the actual time of executing the work and attempting to replay a particular moment or memory in an effort to explore identity and memory.

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Laura Lark, Aura.  Video still 2.
5. aura still3
Laura Lark, Aura.  Video still 3.

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 Laura Lark is a visual artist and writer living in Houston, TX.

Ellen C. Caldwell is an LA-based art historian, writer, and editor.

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