It might be fairly easy to discern the politics and prolific cultural observations behind Louie Laskowski's work. But that's the way that this artist wants it. "You would have to be blind or insensitive to not see my female expressions in my paintings," she says. Laskowski works to bring out a sense of isolation and persecution in her work, to push her paintings toward a separate, revitalized sense of being. "You have to bring the self beyond its person in order to make a new reality out of it," Laskowski says. "You can change the nightmare into a dream,"
Immediately, Laskowski's painting, Lunar Lady (see page 18), conjures up powerful mythical imaginations in its celebration and invention of a woman empowered by the night moon and the evening spirit. But ask Laskowski where the genesis of this dream-like portrayal occurred and she'll laugh. "The lunar lady is just a little carnival statue," says the artist. "It comes from junk stores where I find much of my stuff."
So the lunar lady is not a literary figure or a mythic heroine. The small statue sits among piles of eclectic objects in Laskowski's Brookston, Ind., studio. But such is the story of much of this artist's expressive work. Everyday objects, from statues, dresses, lingerie and jagged fence edges, find their way into Laskowski's paintings as she reorders these items into a world and imagination of her own making.
Currently, the 48-year-old artist is working on her Dress Series," where this element of re-appropriating and re-ordering the world continues. Within three "in-progress" works, Laskowski has taken actual dresses, pasted them as wholes onto canvases and worked with a variety of textured paints and overlapping images that will be layered over to create a new and infused image. "I want to collage fabric on a major level," says Laskowski. "I want to address who and what we are." Here the items of everyday existence are wretched out of their expected context and re-examined in the community of her painting. "I don't wear dresses, they don't suit me and there's too damn many stereotypes," says the artist "I'm playing with all those mental types in my head."
The head of Harrison High School's art department in West Lafayette, Laskowski has had a career of teaching, political activism and motherhood behind her artistic endeavors. A Purdue graduate, she earned her bachelor's degree in art education In 1975 and a master's degree in fine arts in 1982. Laskowski has consistently weaved these strands of everyday survival into her artistic realm. In fact, one of the earliest grants that Laskowski received as an artist, a Purdue Mortar Board Fellowship, was used to build her first "little" studio and to kick-start her career. Laskowski was struggling to teach and create in a field that offered few opportunities for female artists and art professors. "I wanted to become a role model for young women artists," says Laskowski. "At the time there were no women, or there might have been one, within the entire Purdue art department."
Laskowski is not only busy teaching and painting, but also shows and moves her works in galleries and sites across the country. She was recently accepted as an artist member with Gallery 84 in New York City. She has applied for a grant to continue and expand her "Pink House" painting/poetry series. Locally she is showing at the Greater Lafayette Museum of Art from March 1 through April 15, with the opening on March 15. In addition to her "Dress Series", Laskowski is working on a series of Polaroid "photo-transfer" images for a spring showing and has been looking to make available inexpensive poster/print reproductions of her work. You can check out her up-to-date web site at http://dcwi.com/louie/Welcome.html
Clearly, Laskowski has found herself within very focused and full days of creative efforts. "If I am not doing something every day in regard to art, I feel guilty, lost," she says. "I have an absolute desire to perform and feel very alone when I'm not."
All artwork and code Copyright 2005 Louie Laskowski
No part of this document may be copied or used without express written permission of the artist.