Artist displays new spin on everyday materials

By Jessica Johnson-Petty
November 1, 2011

Pieces from Velez’s exhibition “Permission” are a challenge for her to become more of a risk-taker with her art. She uses a combination of materials that can be found in hardware stores.

Who would have thought that wax, clay, mirrors, cardboard, hair and bandages would all share common ground? The beauty of discovery, “Permission” is currently on display in the Grace and Joseph Gorevin Fine Arts Gallery, in the Holy Spirit Library for all to witness.

“Well I have wax, and I have nails, and I have a mirror and I’m just going to go for it,” Laura Velez said as she described her collection as both geological and emotional landscapes during the artist reception on Thursday, Oct. 27.  She said, “the objects that were in control, yet out of control.”

“It [the collection] reminds me of objects in my house that you just pick up and create art,” Noelle DiCioccio, sophomore graphic design major, said.

In the gallery, filled with approximately 35 people, Velez described her pieces and the process to the fine arts department professors, graphic design students and fellow artists. Her advice to all was to not be afraid, to trust your gut and to continue to search until you discover what resonates with you.

Velez began her artistic journey being “strict about learning oil painting” to create landscapes, still lifes and figurative pieces.

When in graduate school, while other students had jobs, she used her time to produce. Spending eight hours a day in the studio, she always ended up asking herself the question, “how can I express my concept better?”

She grew determined to discover a relationship with different medium.

“The pieces involving the nails are really dynamic. I think the work and use of different mediums, hair, wax, etc., are tops,” Nicholas Stauffer, senior individualization major, said.

“I started having a lot of fun. I had nothing to lose,” Velez said.

As she worked in what she described as the “no mistake zone,” her inspiration for her collection was the human body. This zone is about embracing the mistakes and moving forward.

“I felt liberated and free,” Velez said. “I could try to do something, anything, and there was no right or wrong, black or white. I could make a mistake with no one noticing.”

A piece in the collection was a group of vessels to represent the vertebrae of the spine. This piece is about repetition. Some pieces are over baked. According to Velez, each piece is its own individual self.  When they are in a mass amount, they take on a completely different identity. “I began to feel comfortable with them being together. There are 600 pieces here. To be honest, I would like to see a whole room of them. That would resonate with me well,” Velez said.

Many three-dimensional displays are well guarded. Velez’s pieces are not.

She wants the viewer to be able to become one with the pieces. Her collection is the view of how she internalizes the world that she observes. The purpose of having them unprotected is for the pieces to be vulnerable, so the viewer can get as close to the piece as possible and to determine what they wish of the art.

When Velez looks at the chair, she sees shoulders and hips. The rope is aligned with where the spine would fall. With the chair wrapped in so many layers, Velez lost count, the piece displays healing and protection.

Her final destination is resonance. “If it doesn’t resonate with you at that particular time, try something else.”

Nicholas Jacques, assistant professor of  fine arts, stated that this is the first time the Grace and Joseph Gorevin Fine Arts Gallery has showcased three-dimensional art.

Erin Decker, sophomore graphic design, said the collection was “very interesting, simplistic, yet unique.”

“Trust your gut, especially when you’re not sure,” Velez said.

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Jessica Johnson-Petty

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