Studio Visit: Laura Wennstrom

Studio Visit appears in Sunday editions of The News-Gazette. Here, a visit with artist Laura Wennstrom.

Q: What will you talk about at the Hatch Festival lecture this afternoon?

A: I'm not really sure yet. The piece right behind you is what's going to be in the show — a quilt called "Security Blanket," made from security envelopes. I really like quilts and paper and patterns, and this is a way to embrace those things in the piece. A sort of scale shift happens when you get close to the piece. You see the individual patterns of the envelopes. If you stand back, you're more likely to see color and a bigger pattern.

Q: So will you talk about your processes?

A: I might talk about process. I guess I'm really interested overall in using found materials, or repurposed materials. I think when you use found materials, they have their own little stories of what their little lives were like before you found them. I think that brings a really interesting conversation to the work. Like these envelopes. Where did they travel?

Q: What are your favorite materials to work with?

A: Paper and fabric. I do some painting and some printmaking, too.

Q: I read on your website (http://laurawennstrom.com/) that your parents are very creative. What do they do?

A: My dad is a graphic designer, and my mom is a teacher. She's been a teacher's aide, but she's going back to school to be a kindergarten teacher. I have two brothers who are musicians. My family was really involved in a church, so my dad always got commissions to do the Christmas play backgrounds and all that. So we were always painting murals on cardboard in the garage. My mom always sewed all the costumes for high school choir, so there would be piles of fabric around the house. I always thought it was normal, but now I know it isn't. It's normal for me.

Q: You grew up in Minnesota, right?

A: Yes.

Q: Why did you come down here to get a master of fine arts degree in new media?

A: I was just kind of wanting to become more serious about being an artist. I think my undergraduate degree was good, but it didn't prepare me to become a self-sustaining artist. I'm also interested in teaching, and it's a free ride here.

Q: I like those wooden blocks painted like buildings. It seems you like cityscapes.

A: Yes. I went to North Park University in Chicago and lived there for about five years. The kind of textures and aesthetics in an urban environment are interesting to me.

Q: Do you show your work a lot?

A: I haven't recently. Before I came here, I was working in an elementary school in Minneapolis, teaching reading, art and special education. So I didn't have any time, and that's part of the reason I came back to school — so I would have three years to dedicate to art making.

Q: What do you think of the Hatch Festival?

A: I'm excited about it. I think the whole idea of people reusing everyday things in a creative way is a really cool way to live. I kind of think because our culture is so material and consumer-driven that people really don't think they can make something. The I.D.E.A. Store (which organized Hatch, a creative reuse festival) is probably the best thing in this entire town. That's where I go when I'm having a bad day.

Editor's note: The Hatch Festival artists' lecture is from 2 to 4 p.m. today (Sunday, March 3) at the Indi Go Artist Co-Op, 9 E. University Ave., C. It is free and open to the public. The Hatch exhibition at Indi Go will remain on view through March 17.

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