In this age of ubiquitous so-called immersive art experiences, painter Laurie Shapiro wages a campaign for something more analog, deeply embodied, and quietly psychedelic (in a meditative sense). Through an inventive combination technique involving painting, screen-printing, sewing, and sculpture, Shapiro’s walk-in wonderlands rival the optical spectacle created by technology with their kaleidoscopic, jewel-like, and organic radiance—but hum with the promise of something more profound. Born with a condition that causes progressive hearing loss, Shapiro turned to amplified visual and energetic experiences, using paint, light, and color to manifest pure emotion and a comforting sense of wonderment. Often the site of music, dance, and other performance actions and activations, Shapiro’s environments are also the counterparts to more traditional paintings that narrate more direct encounters with the sublime and deepening connectivity with nature and one another.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
LAURIE SHAPIRO: I realized I was an artist when I was a teenager, and everyone was figuring out what they wanted to go to college for. I knew that work would be a big part of my life and that I needed to devote my work to being an artist.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
My work is about diving deep into myself and creating immersive—almost psychedelic—environments and individual pieces with painting, textiles, lighting, and mixed media. Informed by my meditation practice, my work is centered on the belief that when we go within, we find ways in which we are all interconnected.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
I got my BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in 2012. I was fortunate to be encouraged to go to college and pursue my career. Carnegie Mellon changed my life, my belief in what I could accomplish as an artist, and my ideas of what art was and could be.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show or project?
I have a two-level exhibition at the Dyer Arts Center in Rochester, NY. This is my first significant show connecting my work to my hearing loss experience. The exhibit is called You Don’t Need to Hear to Listen and features 23 paintings and two immersive installations.
Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?
Yes! My recent Spotify playlists include a “chill ambient mix,” “cozy evening mix,” and some more upbeat house electronic music. I also recently listened to two podcasts, Witch and 28ish Days Later, both presented by India Rakusen.
Website and social media handles, please!
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