#54: Laura Shill
Laura Shill calls her work "a collision of collecting, costuming, performance, installation and photography," and as you might expect, it's always intriguing: The many-faceted artist, currently a studio resident at RedLine, is known of late for labor-intensive stuffed fiber installations that envelope and shelter the viewer with literal arms and a hyper-feminine pulse...but that's not all she does.
Laura Shill, "A Small Room."
Shill's stunning installation A Small Room, which hangs from the ceiling on the third floor of the McNichols Building as part of the Biennial of the Americas exhibition First Draft, can be seen there through September 2. And there's more on the way, she notes.
We asked rapidly emerging artist Shill to share her thoughts on the creative life; her thoughtful answers follow.
Laura Shill, "A Small Room," interior.
Westword: If you could collaborate with one person throughout time, who would it be and why?
Laura Shill: Louise Bourgeois. I admire her sense of humor, subversion of the human form, use of material, the ambitious scale of many of her works, and that she continued to make work well into her nineties. And since reality isn't really an issue here, we would create an immersive installation for Monumenta at Grand Palais in Paris. We would turn that giant brass and glass atrium into a vaguely transparent atmosphere that evokes the interior of a body and utilizes the natural light that is always changing in that space. I would also really love it if I could play dress-up with Dolly Parton and then we would brush each other's hair.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now and why?
Well, to be honest, I'm a little out of touch with the outside world right now. I've kind of been inside an art tornado for the past few months working on pieces for RedLine's Not Exactly and the Biennial. Then I immediately flew to Alabama to visit my family after that. So, I guess I would have to say my mom, Vickie Shill. I spent a lot of time with her last week and she possesses these qualities that I hope to develop one day, like patience and optimism (she starts a lot of sentences with "I'm no Pollyanna, but...") and she's quick to laugh and to forgive. She also practices creativity in every facet of her life, and that is a constant source of inspiration for me.
Laura Shill, "Unconditional Loveseat."
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
Celebrity as art.
What's your day job?
I run the labs for the Interdisciplinary Media Arts Practices program at CU Boulder and also occasionally guest lecture or adjunct teach in addition to that.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life; what would you do with it?
I would start a two-year artist residency program. Artists would be provided with housing, food, a studio, health insurance and a stipend that would be equivalent to a year's salary so that taking time to do a residency wouldn't also make them financially insolvent. We would accept applications from artists at various stages of their careers and have twenty to thirty in residence at one time. I'd also give out individual artist grants, especially focusing on artists who live and work in underserved areas. And, of course, I would continue to make my own work, but without being broke all the time.
What's one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do for the arts?
Well, I have to say that I feel like we have a pretty robust art scene here in Denver. Organizations like RedLine are doing great things to help artists develop their careers by offering what is essentially subsidized rent for studio space and providing constant exposure to resident artists' work and a site for an artist community to grow. Offering individual artist grants that are well-publicized could be huge for artists as well. Also, just buying art from artists you'd like to see succeed at whatever level you can afford can make such an impact both mentally and financially.
Laura Shill, "Hidden Mothers."
Who is your favorite Colorado creative?
It's tough to pick just one -- I've had so much support from other artists in Denver in the last few months who have offered their labor, ideas or just kept me from wigging out. But, I have to go with Adam Milner. Ever since I kidnapped him three years ago and took him on a two-month long road trip to Alabama, we have been in constant conversation about our work and ideas, and I value his opinion tremendously. He has also been the subject of much of my photographic work. He is constantly putting himself out there in a way that I find terrifying -- using technology to connect with strangers, attempting to find something that is essentially human. I'm so distrustful of both technology and other humans, but his work forces me to turn my gaze inward and question why I am like that. I think that's what powerful work can do, help us understand ourselves better.
What's on your agenda for 2013 and beyond?
Burke Miles and I have a video/animation piece for Plus Gallery's Denver Digerati Flash Friday that will screen on the side of the Performing Arts Complex on Friday, August 9. Then I will create a to-be-determined (but probably evening of gender performance) at RedLine October 12 as part of the Artist's Studio series, followed by the RedLine Residents Show curated by Carmen Winant. I'd like to start making costumes and images again this year, and I expect I'll keep making and amassing soft sculptural forms as well.
Who do you think will get noticed in the Denver art scene this year?
I hope it will be Jenna Maurice and Adan de la Garza. Both of them are doing interesting things and I would be excited to see any exhibition that features either or both of them. Visit Laura Shill's website for more information. Throughout the year, we'll be shining the spotlight on 100 superstars from Denver's rich creative community. Stay tuned to Show and Tell for more, or visit the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.
Do you have a suggestion for a future profile? Feel free to leave your picks in the comments.
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