We had the good fortune of connecting with Laurie Skantzos and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laurie, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
When I look back on my art career, there is a direct correlation between risk and growth. Typically, preceding these occasions, a feeling of restlessness or dissatisfaction would arise and this would be uncomfortable enough for me to initiate a change of some kind to my practice. There have been many evolutions to the type of artmaking I’m involved with, and I have often risked losing my audience in order to explore a different direction. I feel that I’ve grown into the artist I am by following my heart and curiosity, despite taking a chance of alienating past collectors. Ultimately it’s about the process and the need to remain true to my vision, and risk plays a significant role in maintaining deep engagement in my work.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a visual artist creating painting/sculpture hybrids that I refer to as “portals”. The seeds of this collection began in 2019, but really developed into an immersive series for me during the lock downs. I’m super excited about how these have evolved from their origins of assembled, paint encrusted detritus from the studio floor to the softly glowing organic forms that appear to float off the wall.
I found my way to artmaking relatively late when I decided to take drawing 101 in university as one of my part time classes. I had been drawing since childhood and took a couple of community classes prior to enrolling as a mature student in my late twenties. This was where my heart belonged. In some ways things seemed “easy” in that I kind of went with the flow, and opportunities presented themselves over time. But that’s not to say that a lot of effort wasn’t involved as well. Most of the challenges I experienced were from my own inner voice that occasionally sought to sabotage my efforts and confidence. I learned that progress and development are cyclical, and that I shouldn’t panic when inspiration seems to have abandoned me. I’ve also discovered that trying to express myself as genuinely as possible always pays off – intrinsically for sure, and also, often (eventually) extrinsically.
I have an uneasy relationship with the word “brand”. It just seems so packaged and slick – which is not what I aspire to at all. But what I’d like the world to know about me is that I’m dedicated to exploration, expression and deepening my practice while also cherishing the connections made along the path.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my friend was visiting during the summer months, I would definitely take them to Guelph Lake for the Hillside Music Festival. We could start off our week together by attending this beloved music and cultural annual event, kicking off the Friday night and ending on Sunday, tired but happy and full of magical memories and a list of favourite new bands we’d never heard of. It takes a couple of days to “come down” from this event, so we would lay low and explore some of the many wooded trails in the area, connecting with nature and recalibrating among the trees. There would be a lot of cooking together at home, because cooking, wine, and eating with friends is such a gift. But we would also eat at some of the delicious downtown restaurants that are walking distance from my place. If a spoken word event was happening that week, we would also check that out! And a flick at the local independent movie cinema, The Bookshelf, would top off one (or two) of our evenings. (I may be showing my age with this itinerary lol)
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’ve been lucky to have several mentors, extremely supportive friends and my partner cheering me on and offering insightful feedback when invited. I wouldn’t be where I am without each one of them. Special shout out to one of my mentors – Tom Wudl – who offered up his unique blend of encouragement, critique, challenge and open hearted invitation into recognizing the sacredness of art making.
Image Credit: Renann Isaacs Contemporary Art Gallery for the installation shots