As we brace ourselves for another transition from fall to winter, we’re often drawn outdoors to pick apples, gather pumpkins and enjoy the changing of the leaves. We often take for granted that in October, everything in nature will take on its orange hue and eventually give way to the grey-white days of winter. Lori Robeau’s work asks us to pause and consider the impermanence of the natural world around us. She was nice enough to answer a few of my questions about her life and work.
- Much of your work deals with the use of shadows and negative space to represent the loss of natural materials and elements. What inspired you to tell this story?
I spent much of my childhood wandering off alone on walks, exploring different natural landscapes—open fields that led to a lake, trails in the woods or a path that wound along a small stream—these spaces were my own private sanctuary. Now, these natural spaces are disappearing before my eyes and what is left is a small void. There is emptiness, a longing that cannot be filled with all the shopping in the world.
- In looking at your work, especially Nature of Reality, there’s almost an ominous character to some of your work. Is that intentional? What do you want the viewer to experience with this piece?
Yes. I hope to prompt conflicting feelings of apprehension and compulsion and to effect a change of perception—not only in how the viewer sees the work once the illusion is revealed, but more importantly how they then interpret the content.
- You use materials like recycled paper circulars, pinewood, vinyl and tar. How do these materials come together to tell your story of consumption and depletion of natural resources?
These materials represent consumption and depletion in a broad circle. First, the great pinewoods are harvested and processed into lumber (even the word timber contains in itself the shadow of the fall of the forest) to build more homes for the rapidly growing population. That population is targeted by media and marketing specialists to buy more products through advertisements that are printed on a by-product of the wood that is harvested.
Tar is produced from the roots and wood of pine trees which is distilled until it’s a thick and black liquid. Tar can also be made from petroleum, which is another name for crude oil. Plastics such as vinyl are made from petroleum as well. Oil is another natural resource that is being depleted.
As the population grows the demand for these products grow and in the process nature; plants, animals and organisms are displaced or worse, disappear altogether.
- Shifting gears, you’ve shown work all over New England. What about the Hartford region inspires you?
Hartford already has a name in the Performing Arts but has recently been growing a name and gaining momentum as a more diversified Cultural Arts Center. I am seeing more exhibits and happenings all around the city and I am inspired and motivated by that momentum!
- What are you working on now? Are there any other issues you’d like to tackle through art?
Yes, along the same lines of a loss of nature, I am interested in taking on the issue and growing concerns of “food” and our detachment from the process of attaining it.
Although, right now, I think I’m just going to paint for a while.
I’d like to thank Lori for answering my questions and to encourage everyone to check out “Consumption” while its on display until January 4, 2013 in our 100 Pearl Street Gallery. There’s no better time to see it than with Lori herself at the opening reception of “Consumption” TONIGHT (October 11) from 5-7pm in the Gallery.