After an essentially peripatetic life, Laura Elkins, for the past sixteen years, has made her home in Washington, DC, a milieu that informs her current work. Elkins began painting as a child, taking lessons from several painters in her hometown, Oxford, Mississippi. The artist has a degree in architecture from the University of Virginia, where she also studied life drawing and painting. She was the Forsyth Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts in 2008 and joined the Santa Fe Art Institute’s Immigration/Emigration Residency in September 2015. Recent exhibitions in New York include solo shows at Tikhonova&Wintner and Ground Floor Workshop, and a group show at Dixon Place. In DC, her work has been exhibited in three solo shows at The Fridge and in numerous group exhibitions. A monograph of the paintings Summer in the City was published in 2015.
My goal is to create an art and an architecture that address the complexities of contemporary life: a “contentious” art and a “contentious” architecture. By immersing the figure into what are often considered politically charged topics — the events and issues of our time, stories that most people know — my intent is to create a truly current and vital figural painting. To create a figural painting that resonates with people who may not ordinarily follow art, while offering serious consideration of the nature of drawing and painting to those who follow art assiduously. You can engage with the message, or the painting; hopefully, both. Similarly, my intent is to create a contentious architecture: to immerse architecture into what are often considered politically charged topics — the events and issues of our time— to create a truly current and vital built environment.
Without a doubt, what was most rewarding for me about my residency at SFAI was the artists I met while I was there. Since SFAI has a “rolling admission,” I was able to meet people as they left, people as they arrived, and best of all, the people who worked at SFAI during the two months I was there. I made friends for life. And I relish the events that those artists, as well as SFAI, hosted while I was there. These highlights include artist Dasha Filippova’s foot washing event to commemorate people who cross borders on foot, a paper making workshop with artist Lee Running, a moving performance by poet Jade Huang, residency manager Nina Elder’s personal tour of central New Mexico, and an Arduino workshop by faculty and staff of New Mexico Highlands University.