Preview: Laura Alexander’s “Emergence”

By Columbus Alive
From the December 20, 2012 edition

The artwork of Laura Alexander emerges from simple layered sheets of paper and X-ACTO blade cuts of eye-popping precision and density.

Now on view at Homeport Gallery in the solo exhibition “Emergence,” her carved abstract patterns and figurative forms are contained in small frames or hung from heavy hardware across yards of wall space. Regardless of individual size, each work lures the viewer closer, demanding in a soft and subtle way an appreciation for every cut, angle and ensuing shadow effect.

A 2012 Greater Columbus Arts Council Individual Arts Fellowship recipient, Alexander explained that her practice is grounded in formal fiber art training, but also in the DIY lessons of her mother.

“Mom made all our clothes and canned food. I learned that labor goes into everything,” she said.

After years of working with several mediums and techniques, including sewing on transparent fabric and etching glass, Alexander chose to focus on paper exclusively for her multilayered and ambitiously large new works, which span up to eight feet. The five-layered, floor-to-ceiling “The Tempest,” for instance, involved 300 labor hours and 400 X-ACTO blades.

For the wall installation “Swarm,” she creates a tonal flurry of butterflies in solid and cutout forms. In “Emergence,” Alexander presents an amorphous, airy shape filled with curves and hard geometric lines, as if she’s capturing an organic form in the process of being digitally mapped.

The patterns in these pieces arise instinctually, the artist explained. “They’re not very conceptual. What comes out comes out.”

She takes a more directed approach for her debut of a new series of “Figure Studies,” in which the darkened shapes of traditional silhouettes are replaced with slivers of white paper on a white background.

Much like the butterflies of “Swarm,” they float over a base surface, held in place by pins that create an intriguing contrast between delicacy and strength, airy movement and a feeling of being trapped like a specimen.

Photos by Ray George

“Emergence” by Laura Alexander

“Swarm” by Laura Alexander