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ITW – Laura Berger, the powerful of the feminity…

Laura Berger’s work is characterized by femininity and gentleness. An American of German origin, Laura began her studies in theater and scenography to arrive very naturally to the illustration. Feminist in her own way, Laura has built her universe around woman, roundness but also draws her inspiration in her travels with warm colors and the presence of vegetable attributes … Meeting a multi-faceted artist!

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painting-photo-by-alex-maier

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Your name is very French-sounding and yet you have always lived in the United States; can you tell us a bit more about the place and context in which you grew up?

It does sound French, doesn’t it? While I do have some French ancestors, my last name is actually German — my father’s parents were from Germany. I grew up in a smallish but fairly liberal town in Wisconsin in the US. I moved to Chicago when I was 23 and have lived here for the last 15 years.

I heard you have a theatre degree and worked for some time as a set designer; what made you want to become an illustrator?

Yes I studied performance in school and minored in design where I did a lot of scene painting. I never made a conscious choice to be a visual artist as my profession — it was just something that evolved very naturally. I started painting my own work as a kind of art therapy after a very rough period in my life around age 26. It was just my hobby and something to focus my energy on for me at that time, and from there it just slowly progressed as I continued to work and eventually became my full-time job after the course of many years.

I feel like your illustrations represent the very essence of femininity, with the rounded shapes you use and the soft colour palette, which all come together very harmoniously. What is your personal vision of women today and how do you transcribe it into your work?

Women are obviously incredibly powerful yet still face so many obstacles to achieving an equal status in society. This is of course at the forefront of our minds in the US right now — I think many of us are feeling very shocked that we thought we had come so far as a culture and a society and to suddenly have these horrific viewpoints being represented by people in power and accepted by a portion of the country, many of whom are women themselves — it’s been really intense. It makes me sad that some women actually think of themselves as lesser beings. We’re realizing how much work is still left to be done. The good thing about this is that I think we are reenergized and even more fired up than ever about feminism and women supporting each other and helping to lift each other up. And we have all of these amazing women emerging as voices of leadership and things like the Women’s March happening, which was such a phenomenal event — my optimistic self really feels like we’re going through these hard times again where it feels like we’re sliding backwards in order to put in more work so we can take some more steps forward. That’s just how life works. These are definitely themes I work with in my paintings and I generally like to paint them as visuals that lean toward positive manifestations or possibilities.

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alliance

carrying-the-sun-up-the-hill-rolling-the-moon-back-down

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The softness and colours in your illustrations call to mind fauna and flora, going back to the roots with women mother-naked… Is it your wish to put forward this nature theme?

Yes, I’m definitely interested in working with natural elements in my work because it’s such an important point of connection for me in my life. Being in nature or even just appreciating the natural world can mean so many different things to people so I don’t have any set intention, but personally I think of ideas like connecting with our true selves, our roots, the earth, where we came from, birth and death, tapping in to what truly matters — these sorts of things.

We feel many ethnic and African vibes in your illustrations, with the use of vegetation and the colours in particular; how do you explain this?

I try to travel as much as possible and I also have always loved looking at artwork and textiles from various native cultures. I’m sure elements from those influences all seep into my subconscious and combine in new ways when I’m working through ideas.

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transformation

something-to-hold-on-to

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Why do you always represent naked women? What does this mean to you?

I actually never initially intended them to be naked, per se — I was really just trying to simplify the figures as much as possible by eliminating detailed clothing and painting them as solid colors. But as I’ve gone along it makes sense to me that nudity can represent a feeling of complete freedom and ease with oneself, each other, and the environment, which is a lovely thought for me to work with.

You also do ceramics, by modelling your women in 3D; was it important for you to represent them other than on paper?

Yes it seemed fun to work with my hands in a different way and to experiment with other mediums to express my ideas. It has been really interesting to see how the different forms feed each other and teach me new things or spark new ideas. For example, using sculpture gives me a better handle on working with body position and form which I can then take back into my paintings. Mostly I just like to always be trying new things to keep work fresh and interesting to me.

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circling

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Finally, we all have a dream spaciotemporal space… In which era and place do you dream to live in?

I think I would have fit well into the hippie era of the 60s in San Francisco. Or maybe a singer in a nightclub in the 40s in New York. The Obama era was also pretty nice. Wouldn’t mind going back there right about now.

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• More infos about the talented Laura Berger on his website or her Instagram page !


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