By: Maria Manuela
As women, we walk the same life path. We share in the most significant of life’s experiences together: struggle, motherhood, triumph and assault. We suffer together. We make brave moves for each other … As women, we are one.
Laura Berger’s paintings — which depict women in surreal scenes of support and connection, or sometimes meditating on their own — touch on this connection. “I think the women in my paintings represent every person to me. All people all over — including me.”
The similarity to the women in her works, each with dark hair and eyes, creates a distinct style. All of Laura’s characters could all be sisters, twins or the same woman painted again and again. This is her visual depiction of our oneness.
“I think the women in my paintings represent every person to me. All people all over — including me.”
Her palate sets pale colors against bold ones. Many of her ladies appear with bright red, deep navy, rose pink or cool blue skin tones adding to the surreal air that permeates her work. She shows women in half circles around a rising moon, lounging on each other in a cave, holding each other up and helping each other to lift the sun. There’s a sense of harmony in her paintings. “A lot of my work has been about connection, often between women, and feeling a sense of belonging and support. That’s something I’ve always longed for.”
A lifelong battle with depression makes Laura’s creativity even more important, because it’s where she finds comfort. “I do think any creative outlet can be extremely therapeutic; exploring and expressing ideas and feelings in different ways is a really healing thing.” She says she finds comfort in color, and mixing new ones to see how they make her feel.
Creativity has always been a huge part of her existence, and she needs to tap into it daily. “I’ve just always been a person who needed creative outlets, even from a very young age. When I’m not doing something creative for a few days, I can tell – because I start feeling super weird or like something is missing.”
Laura is particularly proud of a mural she completed at the Ace Hotel Palm Springs earlier this year. She was recovering from a major illness when she received an invitation to paint at the desert resort: “It also felt like a gift from the universe to have a project that I was excited about working on. And, also to be able to work in the desert, which I find to be a very healing place.”
She spent the days painting in over-100-degree heat and cooled off with evening dips in the clear blue pool. “I love the desert very much, so I really felt inspired by that landscape and just happy to be out there getting to work in that environment.”
“When I’m not doing something creative for a few days, I can tell – because I start feeling super weird or like something is missing.”
Travel is Laura’s antidote for creative blocks. “Getting away and into a new environment where every experience feels fresh and new is the ultimate way to get new ideas for me.” But when you can’t escape, she says scrap what you’re doing; be radical. “If I have the time and space, then the best thing to get rejuvenated is to just take a total break away from making work. Or just make work that’s really different from what I usually do, just for fun ... Eventually, things come.”
If you’re in San Francisco Dec. 1-22, you can see Laura’s solo show at Spoke Art. She’s also participating in two group shows; one at Scope Miami with Thinkspace Projects, Dec. 4-9, and another in New Hampshire at Nahcotta, Dec. 7-30. You can even decorate your walls with her whimsical work, as she recently collaborated with Lemon Design to create wallpaper. Check it out here.
About the author: Maria was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she currently lives and works as a freelance journalist. She wrote several 2017 cover stories in the Santa Fe Reporter, and had a former column called Bed Head, which focused on New Mexico-based fashion. She also makes clothing and sells curated vintage through her online shop, Heirmana. Over the past year, Maria has become more and more dedicated to telling women's stories, as she feels it is the best work she can do during this time of change, awakening, and female empowerment. She highlights women who are inspiring movements, breeding positivity, and spreading supportive messages to other women through their art, music, food, design, writing, and more.