For the Love of Art Member Profile: Laurie Strong
Individual member, first joined 1996, lapsed then rejoined 2014
Why do you come to SAM?
I come to SAM to be reminded and inspired. After retiring I turned toward my first love: art. Making, seeing, thinking, dreaming art of any and all sorts. Easily visiting SAM more frequently is the inspiration for my current move closer to Seattle. Until you asked, I didn’t realize what an influence SAM is in my life, even though I haven’t visited that often (but soon will!).
I want to ask more generally about what role you think art plays in society. Do we need art?
We absolutely need art. I was a child psychotherapist for many years, studied at UW, what-have-you, and art therapy was at the very beginning. It’s kind of out of favor now, but you know, to communicate with an incommunicative child through art is a wonderful thing. As a young woman working there I would sit on a little bench like this, and he would draw and I draw.
Art is communication to me, absolutely, always. And it communicates how you feel, it communicates how you see. Going through the art museum you don’t see a lot of angry stuff, but there is a lot of anger in art, it just explodes and sometimes you just absolutely know what the artist was feeling, even if you are totally wrong—so yes, to me art is ultimately communication.
And then, depending on who you are, if you are attuned to pattern or you’re attuned to color—and some people are and some people aren’t—then the patterns in a piece of art, and how they play…it can be calming or exciting.
The patterns in art and the colors in art really connect to our emotions because of what’s in us, not so much because of what’s in the artist. Because we intrinsically see and put things together in a way that is specific to us as individuals.
Do you make art?
I do! I actually made these earrings.
When you get old you can’t wear heavy earrings and I always, because I was so tall, wore big, bulky earrings and had to give them up. So I just started making these and I do a variety of things. You can look at my website. On my blog you will see what I do.
I started out in life being very attracted to the arts and doing art in grade school and what-have-you and then you know, because of when I was born and real life, you had to do something to support yourself. I had children and we didn’t have that much money and my art just went by-the-by and took second place. Then as I got older, when I was the director of the mental health center in Port Townsend…if you threw a rock up there you would hit an artist or a gallery. And so we had art therapy for the adults there.
We had a whole program and a lot of the schizophrenic patients and other people like that did art. We would put on art shows periodically and then various staff who wanted to would put on another show. If you look at my blog you’ll see that way at the bottom is a book art that it’s obviously an Indian image. It’s bright red. That was the first thing I did when I was at that center and we started doing art. Then I just totally got back into it again. That’s me and art.
That’s great! That’s really fun. Did you raise your family around art?
Yes. I did and I didn’t. One of my sons thinks he’s doing art. He unfortunately suffers from mental illness so sometimes he does these things. But my daughter makes her living doing art in Monterey and the Peninsula with all those rich people down there. She does decorative household art. Some people flew her to France to make the steps in their villa look older and be decorated. Nice life indeed! She really works hard and I think on her website you can see her doing art in a rotunda—she’s an artist. That’s actually a very old-fashioned way to earn a living as an artist. Like Michelangelo used to do. House decorator.
And her son is a photographer and he lives here. And my other son has no artistic talent whatsoever. There’s always one. My daughter and her son are practicing artists so she makes her living doing art and her son has had photography shows and what-have-you, I’m not sure he’s doing a lot of it right now.
Do you have a favorite piece of art here? Do you have a favorite in general? Do you like a genre?
Here? No. Things change for me. I like art as color and pattern and decorating so there is something I would like in that, that I might not like someplace else. I am pretty broad, actually. You know, I’m not all that impressed by Rembrandt, because the subject matter is boring to me. I like more splash.
It all depends, you know. I just love lots of different things.
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