Opening Reception Jul 8th, 5-7pm
Laurel Izard currently lives and works in Michigan City with her artist husband Edwin Shelton and two cats. She received a BA from Northern Illinois University, with majors in art and anthropology, and a MFA in Ceramics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After college Izard and her husband started a ceramic business called Izwin, and wholesaled colorful whimsical tabletop wares to galleries, boutiques, and department stores throughout the country. After twenty-three years of self-employment, she taught art in numerous after-school and summer programs. Her art-teaching career culminated in nine year of teaching art at Marquette High School.
Her philosophy as an artist and teacher is that an integral part of being human is to be creative and continues to teach others how to discover their inner artistic resources. Currently she works part time as the education coordinator at the Lubeznik Center for the Arts and creates art full time. Izard is an award-winning artist who exhibits her artwork throughout the country.
I have always had a deep concern for the planet and all the people, animals and plants living on it, yet it is only recently that I have begun to address the mass extinction of animals by portraying them in my art quilts. I am particularly touched by the plight of endangered and threatened birds. As I do the research for each artwork, I learn quite a bit about the factors underlying the perilous edge many of these animals exist on. It is my hope to evoke these “edges” as I portray endangered animals in my quilts and oil paintings.
I have chosen to use vintage quilt tops because I find the old fabrics and patterns in them endlessly varied and beautiful. On an emotional level I appreciate the abandoned nature of these quilts, for someone had spent hours hand-piecing hundreds of bits of fabric and yet never finished their project. Most quilts have spent decades in storage and are now given new life off the bed and hung on the wall as endangered animal quilts. Symbolically quilts make me think of mothers, grandmothers, home, safety, and protection. I like to think of sending that sentiment out into the world as a kind of prayer of protection. Another aspect of these old quilts, that I reflect on, is that when these women were stitching them, 50 or 60 years ago, the animals were not yet endangered. We can’t go back in time, but we can adopt behaviors that will support world ecosystems and animal survival. I believe that this will take the dramatic changes on a global level, and this is but one small step in that direction.
Recently I have begun creating portraits of endangered birds in oils on clay board. Since it takes six weeks or more to complete a hand stitched quilt, these oils allow me to make portraits of more of the world’s endangered birds.