Laura Moser creates serenity from the tumultuous with grace and ease
By Kim Henry
Art has been expressing the personal experience of artists since the beginning of time. Feelings channeled through brush strokes and thoughts reflected in the conscious composition of their chosen materials. The abstract work of Cashiers artist Laura Moser honors this gift with her powerful sharing of the way she relates to the world. Using art to make sense of the madness, Moser transports us to a sweet spot between simplicity and chaos, the whimsical and political.
Moser grew up in Charlotte, NC, and although she always loved the arts, she didn't have confidence in her artistic ability as a young woman and found herself in advertising where she could at least utilize her designer aesthetic. The rollercoaster of marriage, work, home and two children later, Moser allowed herself to go back to school in 2000 to get her master's degree in fine arts at the University of Houston. Here she dove into class after class of different techniques and gradually discovered her own style - that of abstract art.
A long-time lover of the abstract, Moser finds more meaning by telling a story in a way that allows people to have their own reactions. "I don't want to just give it to people; I like to let them have their own story and interpretation," smiles Moser from her studio in Cashiers. Many of her pieces involve layer after layer of paint, almost like peeling away the layers of an onion in reverse; it ain't done till it's done. This therapeutic nature of her relationship to paint has inherently guided her work.
"There was a point when the kids were little, that my life was pretty chaotic and 9/11 had just happened," recalls Moser. Juggling her inner and outer world, she explains how she used to throw paint on old pieces of plywood as a way to expel some anxiety. "This is how I discovered that if you use a lot of energy to make a painting, it shows; I don't know why but it does!"
The next step to this big muddle of tumultuous color for Moser was to create order and serenity. So, she began to paint over the jumble and build her bubble of tranquility. "I still do this. Even though so many of my pieces are white, underneath there's a lot of stuff!" shares Moser. Looking more closely at her work, we see a wealth of thought and ideas conveyed with simplicity. "Truth" is a collection of cut-up newspapers painted over in white to the point where only the word "Truth" remains in print and was created in an election year.
Moser's work has a knack of touching on world events and provocative ideas with grace and ease. "Bringing Home the Bacon" is a part of her "Powerful Women" series, which celebrates both the strength and innate femininity of women. Surrounded by strong matriarchs in her own life, Moser returns to this theme again and again. "Hummingbird" diversifies the idea that small and slight can also be strong and resilient. "The wings of this tiny bird are actually incredibly powerful, which is how they can hover in one spot," says Moser, "and I surrounded him in negative space so that he has lots of room to fly."
Moser's connection to nature has intensified since moving from Atlanta to Cashiers in the beginning of 2021. Moser and her husband owned land in this stunning mountain region for many years and always planned to retire there, but the trials and tribulations of 2020 allowed them to make the move much sooner than anticipated. "I love it up here," enthuses this compelling artist, "although the straight lines of the coastal landscape appealed to my need for order, I am so inspired by the beauty of the mountains." One of her most recent creations is a tree of real branches, decorated with origami butterflies made out of the pages of a dictionary. Entitled "The Metamorphosis of Words," the piece is about the ever-evolving nature of language.
Moser certainly seems to be at home in Cashiers and is set to open her new gallery space in a room adjacent to Josephine's Emporium, near the crossroads. She is also a part of a local art collective that will be displaying their work at private shows as a way to support the prolific artist community of the area. Moser's superpower in aligning thought-provoking ideas, emotionally fueled issues and visual serenity, reflects the material nature of her layer upon layer technique. And we can't wait to see what the next layer of her artistic journey will be.
Powerful Women Series
Rice paper and acrylic
The dresses in these paintings are made out of rice paper- which is very translucent and beautiful, but also very strong (think Japanese scrolls). The dresses represent women, and I put the names of world leaders and other powerful women underneath the folds of some of the dresses. For clients, I also like to add the names of powerful women in their lives. In the first painting, “Leader,” the background is the people these women represent. In the second painting, “Head of State,” the background represents different countries, but also homes. The dresses/women in the next group of paintings represent women as powerful forces in a dark and chaotic world.
“Hummingbird” acrylic; 60” x 48”
This is a series I continue to do. Hummingbirds are very strong even though they are so small. Their wings beat 80 times per second. They bring love, good luck and joy (I read that on the internet!), and they are relevant to the area. The background has a lot of energy and movement; the hummingbird is very still. The wings are abstract and blurred, indicating the speed at which they move. The negative space makes the hummingbird central and important and strong.
“Flag” acrylic and paper; 48” x 72”
“Liberty” acrylic; 48 x 60
These paintings start like all the rest, with a lot of color and chaos that is then toned down with white. It gives the paintings depth, but also helps me deal with the busyness and craziness of the world. The flag has found images embedded in the painting that are pertinent to the client (UNC logo, Atlanta logo, soldier, etc.).