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FEATURED ARTIST: A. Laura Brody

2014 January 19

Learn more about AAAD Featured Artist A Laura Brody!

‘NUTTY bliss

While reviewing work, I searched through entries for something contemplative but with a sense of humor to feature this month.  A little something that would spice up my winter, combating the inevitable doldrums, as well as help me find a different angle on my the serious nature of my own current work.  We are proud to Feature the work of  A. Laura Brody. I find this work organic but mechanized, self-evident but not obvious. Inspired…

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Featured Artist A Laura Brody - photo courtesy of Jon Meredith

Photo courtesy of Jon Meredith

FEATURED ARTIST:
A. Laura Brody

A. Laura Brody is a costume creator by trade and a functional artist by design and desire.  You’ve seen her recent work for designer Michael Schmidt on LMFAO at the Superbowl 46 halftime show, the last 2 Black Eyed Peas tours, in Fergie’s LEGO dress and on Rhianna’s bottom.“I love bringing out discarded items and materials and making them the center of attention. Zipper teeth become lace edgings, ball bearings act as pendants and centerpieces, remnant snap tape becomes footlights and old tablecloths are reborn into upholstered cushions and deconstructed finery.  My creations help people tap into childhood dreams of becoming heroines, kings, rock stars and super villains.” — A. Laura Brody

Rocking Duck Boat by Featured Artist A Laura Brody and Alan deForest - photo courtesy of Heidi Marie Photography

Rocking Duck Boat by Featured Artist A Laura Brody and Alan deForest – photo courtesy of Heidi Marie Photography

Are you self taught or formally instructed? “I’m both. I’m a costume maker and designer by trade, and my years of costume craft work have really made it possible for me to make the art. The upholstery is self taught and so is the carpentry. But I’ve got a longtime habit of tinkering. I get to use my technical skills in really different ways when I construct my artwork. It’s also pushed me to learn to weld and curve metal, how to refurbish stainless steel and silver plate, a little about wiring… Mostly, it’s teaching me patience, which I’m not so good at.”

The work for which many artists know you is mobility-centric.  What brought you to that passion?  I don’t self-identify as disabled. I have friends who do, though, and I’ve worked around quite a few folks who use disability and mobility devices. When a former boyfriend had a stroke, I spent a lot of time with his recovery and got really fascinated by all the devices you can get to help with food prep and getting around in the bathroom and such, but I was shocked at how uniformly ugly they all were. 3 years ago, I cracked my tailbone and then went through a nasty bout of tendinitis, which started me working on my own posture issues and thinking about what I would do if I couldn’t use my hands.  It was pretty terrifying, since my hands are a large part of how I make my living.

Rocking Duck Boat by Featured Artist A Laura Brody and Alan deForest - photo courtesy of Heidi Marie Photography

Those tendinitis braces
are hideous.

 

Re-making a wheelchair into something amazing was in the back of my mind for a long time, and I finally got the guts to approach a wheelchair using friend of mine about redoing his old electric one. (Thank you, Peter Soby, for kick starting this idea!)  One of the responses I get with my mobility artwork is how impractical the pieces are. People will go on at great lengths to tell me why they won’t and don’t work. But then, they start thinking about what might work. This is the whole point. How else do we get that conversation started? If we’re lucky enough to live through age and injuries and infirmity, wheelchairs or walkers or crutches or prosthetic limbs are going to be in our future. For some people, these devices are a part of their everyday lives. Why not make them amazing? And who said design was only about being practical?

Le Flaneur by Featured Artist A Laura Brody - photo courtesy of Heidi Marie Photography

Le Flaneur by Featured Artist A Laura Brody – photo courtesy of Heidi Marie Photography

Is sustainability a purposeful choice in your work or a by product of what you do?   It’s a flat-out fascination and a longtime practice. I grew up in Alaska and was surrounded by people who took a lot of pride in figuring out how to make and fix things themselves with whatever they had around. I compost, I reuse in my artwork and everyday life, and I’m finding ways to do better with reducing my waste. I just read Junkyard Planet by Adam Minter (all about his travels in the global trash trade) and was fascinated and horrified. Check it out. You may never use another plastic water bottle.

Part of it comes from how much waste I see in the entertainment industry, which I’m a little horrified to be a part of.  Yes, I know, this is biting the hand that feeds me. But you should see the waste that comes out of a TV show.  Truthfully, though, it’s hard for me to go past a salvage yard or a thrift store or a junk pile without some piece calling out to me and begging me to take it home.

Le Flaneur DETAIL by Featured Artist A Laura Brody - photo courtesy of Heidi Marie Photography

Talk to me about what media you consider the mobility-inspired work?  “I call it over-the-top functional art. The works aren’t conveniently functional, which is kind of the point. The wheelchair and the walker’s GPS unit works (as long as I’ve charged all of the batteries), the walker rolls and the rocking chair rocks. They’re even pretty comfy. ”

What style or school of art do you think your mobility-inspired work fits into? And why do you think so?  Apparently I fall into a Steampunk category.  I guess I see why, even though a lot of Steampunk seems to be about smacking a gear or goggles onto your clothes and calling it Art.  But I like to think of my work as being like a mad scientist, poring over old junk and fitting it together in odd ways to bring it new life.  Is that Reconstructivism?”

Driven by Featured Artist A Laura Brody - photo courtesy of Heidi Marie Photography

Driven by Featured Artist A Laura Brody – photo courtesy of Heidi Marie Photography

I can’t wait to hear about your favorite food.  “There are so so many of them! Truffle oil on cooked veggies is a recent find (so good), so are bison burgers and home-cured bacon (both pork and lamb) and just about anything in spicy coconut cream curry. I love fresh herbs and berries and almost all veggies. I cut out wheat a while ago. It was hard at first, and now I feel a lot better.” Editor’s Note: Spicy coconut cream curry?  That sounds so good I could take a bath in it.  I vote we make that the food of the year.  Yum.

What style or school of art do you think your work fits into and why? “I’m comfortable with the surreal label, since Surrealism is an effective umbrella term for unusual artwork. I also feel that certain artworks of mine have Abstract and Visionary elements to them, though I don’t align myself with those movements.”

What about snack foods? “All things crunchy. I could eat a whole bunch of celery. Hearts of palm, cheese of many kinds and pickles and olives of many kinds, especially the spicy Sicilian blends. Mmm. Pickled foods.” I have a newly acquired addition to pickled foods–beets, in particular.

Driven DETAIL by Featured Artist A Laura Brody - photo courtesy of Heidi Marie Photography

So, what’s coming up next for you?  “I’m looking for a gallery to put up a 2014 Opulent Mobility, together with many more artists who want to re-imagine mobility. If anyone knows of a space that’s really chair and walker accessible, I’d love to hear about it! I’m also putting together a piece to submit to the World of Wearable Art in New Zealand.  I want to make expanding nebula wings come off the back of a wheelchair (idea in process), and I just shot some video to put together into online tutorials for staple draping.  At some point I may get it all done.”

Laura, thank you for being our mad scientist! 

You have probably worsened my desire to salvage beautiful discarded treasures.  My husband calls it hoarding.  I’ll send him to this post for a better understanding of how it all works.  I am inspired.

Learn more about A. Laura Brody online!

Learn more about Featured Artist A Laura Brody!

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3 Responses
  1. January 19, 2014

    Thank you, Rachel! This is awesome.
    No, you’re not hoarding. You’re finding a way to give those salvaged treasures new life.
    xo
    Laura

  2. January 19, 2014

    Rationalization by committee…LOVE IT! 🙂

  3. January 29, 2014

    I never thought of myself as a hoarder, but I do take the magazines from the hospital, as I do collage and watercolor. I’ve had lung cancer twice, two surgeries, both lungs. And yes I am a starving old age artist and getting pissed off because every one wants $ for submissions and old age pension is less than rat piss. no anywhere, below the the line of never to be seen. Sorry got evicted and doing art crazy instead of packing. barb

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