Art in Focus
Later this month, local art fans will roam through neighborhood art galleries and studios during the 2nd annual West Austin Studio Tour, (based on the ever popular East Austin Studio Tour). The self-guided tours celebrate the artists who call Austin home, allowing art admirers to discover and learn from creators.
Participating artist Court Lurie’s latest solo exhibit, Nexus, is open to the public this week, ahead of the neighborhood tour. Her abstract show portrays a grand theme of entropy meeting order and also displays her technique of utilizing industrial tools beyond their designed purposes for mark-making in her works.
Lurie talked with CultureMap about her work in the Austin art community, and also gave us a preview her exhibit that is on display at the Russell Collection Fine Art Gallery.
CultureMap: What are you expressing through your paintings in this exhibit?
Court Lurie: For me, what I’m actually really interested in is how the natural experience of gravity and chemistry happen and how it intermingles with my intentionality.
A lot of these works come from my experience going into nature for two months and kind of going back to our... true nature... and being connected to the animals, the conditions, and the weather…
These lines [points to painting] are very intentional; I thought them out, I looked at the design of the piece, and I spent a lot of time figuring out that I wanted to do that. But this area is very much spontaneous, and I had no idea what this was going to look like when I took my tool… and spread it over the paint after it was applied, kind of more rigorously.
For me, this kind of thing in my work is what’s so important, because I think of it as a metaphor for life. We go about our daily lives, we move around, we work, we have families, we have jobs, we have kids, we have lives — and there’s this thing that happens. We try to control everything.
We want it to look a certain way, or we want it to be a certain way, but it never is and we have to interact with nature, weather and other peoples’ voices, opinions, ideas, thoughts, feelings, experiences, our own traffic.
[It’s the] confrontation between those two experiences… the intentionality versus the spontaneity.
CM: With the connection between nature and technology acting as a major theme for this exhibit, is connecting yourself with nature an important source of inspiration?
CL: Last year I was awarded a fellowship to go to Wyoming and do an artist residency program… And I got another fellowship this summer, also in Wyoming. So that’s kind of a time for me to really connect back to nature after being in the city.
A lot of these works come from my experience going into nature for two months and kind of going back to our… true nature... and being connected to the animals, the conditions, and the weather… and then coming into the city and then crashing. I mean I crashed into the city when I got back.
The traffic was so loud. It was almost like screeching in my ears and it took me like three or four months to get used to it again and feel okay here… That was kind of a huge awakening for me and I think I’m also really interested in how technology is affecting us now.
For example, whenever the phone was invented or the car, we had 20 years to integrate this new experience, a new tool that was going to change the way we communicate, and our mobility. And now, we have these tools that change the way we think, the way we communicate, the way we act, the way we function, where we put our attention, and we have 30 seconds to integrate.
And it seems like we almost have very little choice in whether or not we engage with them, and that’s really affected me as well.
CM: What are some of the ways that you have become involved with the local Austin arts community?
CL: I’ve sat on the advisory board at the Art Alliance Austin when they were programming their Art Week a couple of years ago. I created an event with Pump Project and Big Medium called Springboard, and we’re not doing it this year, but we’ve done it the past couple of years. And it was kind of like a mid-year East Austin Studio Tour, for like the big complexes.
I do mentor three young artists. We have a one-on-one relationship and sometimes they’ll help me in the studio… And then I work with them with their work and discuss where they’re going, what their vision is. Some of them are right out of art school. [They’re] kind of at the beginning stages of their careers, they just need an extra mentor, so I do that and that’s really important to me.
Years ago when I first started doing this, I had this feeling that part of being able to create a career in the arts was, not just for me, but to learn how to do it so I can help others and teach others how to create a career for themselves. [I’m passionate about] people who have creativity or have a certain skill who are just really passionate about something that they know innately is what they’re supposed to do but there’s not a platform or vehicle for them to be able to do that in the world easily.
If you want to be an accountant or a lawyer or a doctor, there’s a path… If you want to be a painter, or an actor, or musician, or writer there’s not a carved path. I feel like my career has been as creative as my work — the decisions that I’ve had to make over the last 10-15 years, the ways that I’ve gone about connecting with people, networking, the show’s I’ve chosen, things like that have been very eclectic.
I think a lot of artists and creative people are really brave to take that risk and move into that space. I’m really passionate about supporting them and moving forward with that.
Court Lurie's new exhibit runs April 6 - May 5 at the Russell Collection, and is also part of the West Austin Studio Tour.