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Meet Laura Chasman

Today we’d like to introduce you to Laura Chasman.

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
I was born in Brooklyn, NY. From an early age I loved drawing and painting. Crayons, pastels, paints were the gifts I cherished the most. As a child, my constant refrain was “I want to make something”. When I was old enough, I would ride the subway in to Manhattan to visit art museums. My favorite haunt was the Metropolitan Museum of Art where I would go to revisit paintings that captivated me. One of those was Jules Bastien-Lepage’s Joan of Arc. It still hangs in the same room. I love returning to look at it. At age 16, I used money earned babysitting to enroll in a summer class in life drawing at the Art Students League in NYC. For a teenager from Brooklyn, in the 1960’s, this experience was liberating. I also attended Saturday painting classes at Pratt Art Institute and NYU. There never seemed to be any question where my passions lay. I graduated from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Tufts University, and later on Smith College, School of Social Work. My desire to be an artist was foremost, but artists need to support themselves, and I always had an interest in understanding myself and others more closely. My ‘day job’ as a clinical social worker strongly influenced my work as a painter of people. I valued the opportunity to move within two very different worlds- each feeding the other interest. Whether in a clinical setting or working in my studio, I seemed to find myself face to face with another human being.

Please tell us about your art.

Painting images of people is all that I have ever wanted to do. My gouache portraits are a visual journal of my life- a reflection of the humanity that is all around me. I am drawn to how my subjects look, feel and express themselves and how I have come to know them. Every portrait tells a story. My paintings of people are often quite serious, while others have tinges of irony or humor- such is life. Both individuals and groups of people fascinate me. Painting the portrait of one person has often led to a series of images of others within the same social context. My interest has always gone beyond an outward manifestation of the self. I want to capture the physicality and the feeling of my subjects, not just a likeness.

Finding myself with others that I had never imagined knowing soon grows to the recognition that here is an opportunity to capture my experience.

What do you think about conditions for artists today? Has life become easier or harder for artists in recent years? What can cities like ours do to encourage and help art and artists thrive?
Artists make sacrifices in order to do their work, although I doubt many artists spend precious time thinking about this. Figuring out a way to keep working is all that matters.

Studio spaces in Boston have become very expensive. We need more low-rent studio space with guarantees that when the restaurants and shops move in to the area, these artists’ spaces will remain low-rent. The cost of art supplies is another stress-, particularly if you are working with traditional art materials. I was surprised and delighted to see an art piece about this very subject in the last Whitney Biennial.

The art world is an intensely competitive place. Supply and demand. So many artists and only so many opportunities to show one’s work or receive a grant. I don’t have a solution. I am grateful for social media. Artists need visibility.

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
This Fall I will be in a group show “Portraiture” at the Schlitkamp Gallery, Clark University, in Worcester, Mass. I hope people will come out to see the show, and if not, please check out my work on the web- my website, (www.laurachasman.com or Instagram- www.instagram.com/laurachasman. I also accept commissions.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Oliver Lucian Anderson and John Christian Anderson.

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