Laurel PaluckArtist, Artistic Producer Atelier Ludmila
Laurel's Story :
I grew up with a bit of an insider’s take on the machinery of advertising. Both my parents worked in the field and that early critical experience stamped a mark of suspicion on my young brow. Sure, I fell victim along with my friends to the grasping desires of unattainable beauty and pleasures the constant stream of advertising pumped into our bloodstreams, but I grew terribly aware of the manipulation and deception behind it. The conflict drove me hard to find something true, to carve out some sort of real purpose in a world that seemed shrink-wrapped in plastic. Thank god (pardon the idiom, I’m an atheist) for the punks and the artists who created spaces and safe habour! Politics, literature, philosophy, history, music, fashion..worlds of discipline and authority to be sure, but through the lens of art they have become places where questions often make more sense than answers – where curiosity has a fighting chance against conformity. Curious I remain and most currently have become intrigued by the language formed between the artists, their works, and the viewer. When I peek out from my desk in the little gallery I run to watch a person stand before a painting, I sometimes catch my breath to see a tiny miracle happen. It’s like a window suddenly opening, inviting the viewer to reach out, grab hold of a thread and swing on in. I do try to respect the privacy of such communion, but I can’t help but watch when a viewer’s head takes that first thoughtful tilt, steps their body closer, retreats to gain a fuller context, only to come forward, back again and so forth until a steady focal point is found as some form of secret recognition unfolds. It’s a gratifying dance to behold – an important act of rebellious curiosity to help bust up the blocks of conformity we often find our heads stuck in, and I’m proud to be a part of helping create spaces for this to happen.
A major part of my artistic practise involves collaborating with artists and other curious folks to create and animate unusual spaces. The alleyways of Peterborough have offered great inspiration for the exploration and execution of performance works in a series called the AlleyWaltz. This perennial event began as a practical response to a lack of affordable theatre space but continues in response to a desire voiced from audiences and actors to lay some sort of claim on public spaces in creative and dynamic ways. If you’ve encircled a group of actors performing Edward Albee in night-lit parking lots, chased prancing papier-mache deers and dancing foxes downtown on the Winter Solstice, if you’ve seen giant whales made of reclaimed plastic haunting the streets while a choir of mourners set free a song of wailing, you’ve been part of reclaiming the spaces we share and helped declare our right to respond to and in them. And friend, if that’s you, thank you, you’ve had a profound impact on my work as an artist by giving me licence to trust my voice, follow my instincts, and accept the responsibility of responding to our needs for creative engagement.
There is no shortage of them: from daily struggles to global catastrophes, our concerns are growing every day and we can no longer pretend that they will abate. How are you coping? How are your kids coping? I work with kids on art projects and though they lend me great hope and fabulous energy, I am deeply concerned about their well-being. I see something more profound than suspicion stamped on their brows. I have to ask if they’ll have the tools to cope and deal with the changing world they are inheriting and I don’t know that we adults have ourselves the tools to give. I think seriously invested engagement with the arts is a vital key to enable children (and adults) to think critically, feel deeply and act consciously. I am concerned with how little priority the arts are given in our schools and how skewed our valuing of art is in our society. Art is core to our humanity, to deny and degrade it is unconscionable, cruel and risks terrible costs. I hope in my way to support, nurture and champion the creative spirit we all deserve to know.