Q+Art: Laurie Shapiro Revists the Flower Child Era with Psychedelic Installations
In the 1960s young hippies famously cautioned against anyone over the age of 30. Multimedia artist Laurie Shapiro, who recently reached that milestone, would probably disagree. The LA-based artist borrows heavily from the flower child ideals of that era, incorporating psychedelic patterns and flowers into her room-size installations.
Originally from Long Island, Shapiro’s light infused works play better in the always-sunny clime of LA where she now lives and works. The artist patches together handmade screen prints, sewn fabric, and paintings to create fully immersive spaces that transport participants to another world. In the ‘60s hippies embraced floral iconography as symbolic of passive resistance and nonviolence, becoming known as “flower children.” Here, Shapiro uses the same imagery and its accompanying bright colors as a recurring theme to highlight humanity’s intrinsic connection to nature and ourselves.
“While my individual paintings often dive into the collective unconscious, documenting similarities in the inner psyche, my installation environments—built of handmade mixed-media paintings, serve as literal otherworldly meeting places—fantastic environments which bring all types of people together,” Shapiro writes in her artist statement. Her installations are fully interactive, bathing participants in kaleidoscopic colors and dizzying patterns as they walk through narrow hallways under hanging lanterns.
With titles like, “Before You Were Born,” Shapiro’s work incubates viewers in a primordial soup of rainbow-colored flowers. There’s an impulse toward silent awe in the presence of the mystery Shapiro creates. In this case, there are no clues to uncover, no trail of blood to diligently sniff out. Instead, we’re meant to bask in the glory of not knowing with the same wordless faith we felt in the warm embrace of our mother’s womb.
In Today’s Q+Art Interview…
Laurie Shapiro discusses the benefits of basic income, going out for a posh vegan meal, and trusting yourself to choose the right path in life.
Which books, art-related or otherwise, belong on every artist’s shelf?
Laurie Shapiro: Catching the Big Fish (Lynch), Concerning the Spiritual In Art (Kandinsky), Making It in the Art World (Carey), Yes To Life (Frankl), Ninth Street Women (Gabriel), Big Magic (Gilbert), Foursome (Burke).
If you could have dinner with any artist, living or dead, who would it be?
LS: It would be great to have dinner with Frida.
What are you trying to express with your art?
LS: I am trying to express the intrinsic connection we have to nature and each other.
What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
LS: Lana Del Rey and posh vegan restaurants.
What do you consider your greatest artistic achievement?
LS: It's a lifetime of work . . . I don't think I am there yet.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
LS: Advice that has told me to trust myself and that I will be OK on my own path.
Is a formal arts education worth the money?
LS: For me it was, but I think this really depends on the circumstance.
What is one thing you would like to change about the art world?
LS: I think artists, and actually all people, should have a basic income. As a society, I think we need to refocus our priorities on a basic standard of living for all, as well as working with respect to the planet that gives us life.
Would you rather be a historically significant or commercially successful artist?
LS: As a living full-time artist, I'd rather be commercially successful.
What are you listening to in the studio right now?
LS: The Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer.
How do you think the coronavirus pandemic will impact the art world in the long term?
LS: We might have more virtual events in conjunction with in-person ones. But honestly, I think that as quick as corona changed the world, the change back could be equally as quick.
What are you working on that you’re excited about right now?
LS: I recently finished a series of paintings called Mixed Signals, which express conflicting feelings and complex emotions.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. All photos published with permission of the artist.
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