Laurel Porcari was born and raised in Yonkers, NY, a smallish city just north of the Bronx. She moved to New York City to attend Pratt Institute, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and, later, a Master of Science in Architecture & Urban Design from Columbia University. After a long stint in Australia, she returned to the United States, making New Orleans her home and earning an MFA from Tulane’s Newcomb Art Department. Her full-time focus for over a decade has been on large-scale commissions. Busy creating both private and public pieces, her works are featured in the permanent collections of New York’s Montefiore Medical Center; Baylor University Medical Center and the University Hospital System in Texas; Xavier University in New Orleans; and Louisiana State University, to name a few. Laurel is dedicated to the revitalization and growth of New Orleans, and focuses on youth empowerment through the arts. She is on the Board of the YaYa Art Center (Young Aspirations/Young Artists), and is a founding board member of the non-profit New Orleans Creative Glass Institute. Laurel is dedicated to art and design education, instructing at Tulane University, The University of Texas, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and Pilchuck Glass School. Laurel is the recipient of numerous visual arts grants from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation, RMIT, and the Goldman Sachs Foundation. She has been on numerous residencies including Pilchuck, Northlands Creative Glass, and Bullseye Glass. Laurel can be found most days in her studio on Magazine Street, though she loves to travel and welcomes projects well outside swamp geography. Although I am best known for making large-scale commissioned works in glass, all of my art shares a similar visual language. I use whole parts – either enameled, colored sheets of glass, or paintings on linen – that are atomized into hundreds, if not thousands of pieces that are thoughtfully reassembled into cohesive patterns. More than merely employing my secret pattern language, my public and speculative works are landscape based, are focused on the natural world, and are anchored in techniques of landscape representation that I have mined, combined, and misappropriated. What differentiates the larger works, beyond material transformation and physical scale, are their contextual relationships and necessary interaction with the public. They combine my mind-geography theories with external influences. My latest work is about memory and mapping. In it, I revisit places that are significant to me. In my visual language of re-composed, layered-up, painting-parts I catalogue actual locations into dreamy meditations. The resulting works are reveries that I physically present as succinctly bounded and attainable works viewed as thought fragments speaking to a much greater context. My fascination with cartography started at a young age during cross-country road trips with my parents and siblings. Perched between my parents, I’d be the navigator, spending hours comparing the real scenery with the road atlas visuals. We camped in each of the lower 48 states, experienced different climates, geological formations, flora and fauna, and fragments of past civilizations in the landscape. Later, my map obsession was fed by studying urban morphology and design. In my current landscaped based work, I combine visual expressivity and formal composition to make reveries that utilize and re-deploy visuals usually found in maps. Like maps, the underlying structure is a grid. Unlike maps, the grid units are covered under translucent and veil-like layers. Like maps, the grids imply coordinates in space. But here the grids are open-edged and continue off the picture plane, making them less about mapping and more about a riff on scale-less-ness, denying their use to apprehend and domesticate space. The works are purposefully ambiguous fragments made via remembrances; their subjects are idealized and unapologetically nostalgic.
- Justin Wheatley
- Rhianna Cockrell