Through the fluidity of watercolor Laura Ball creates a world populated by allegorical images that are constantly changing, with clear allusions to Jungian psychoanalysis. Fears and dreams acquire a bodily form as if in a game of free association and with a highly imaginative style.
In her delicate yet complex watercolors, Laura Ball shows representations of animals, human figures and natural elements. The small dimensions of her compositions and the contrast between the highly detailed and colorful imagery set against stark white backgrounds attracts the viewer’s gaze towards the intricate works. The artist employs a highly figurative style in which recurring symbols – the wall, the net, the mask, specific animals – create a world open to interpretation that strongly evokes the subconscious dimension.
Ball draws her images from a wide range of sources. Her minutely observed, almost scientific renderings of animals seem to be inspired by the nineteenth-century illustrator John James Audubon. At the same time Ball’s work refers to the style of the sixteenth-century artist Arcimboldo in the way that individual elements are reworked together to create a greater whole. A further possible reference can be seen in the shamanic tradition of the Native Americans, where animal figures often represent mediators between the real and spiritual worlds.
Laura Ball’s style also hints at the psychoanalytical theories developed by Carl Gustav Jung, whose “amplification technique” – where the patient is prompted to interpret his or her own dreams using images from myths and popular folk tales – is a key concept for understanding the artist’s work. More specifically, Ball’s Mandala series harks back to a traditional Hindu practice involving the use of artistic expression as a spiritual exercise based on transcendental meditation. Jung interpreted that practice as “a representation of the unconscious self” which led the individual to express his or her deepest desires, emotions and urges.
Through her works, Ball portrays a journey into the human psyche. As her creatures continuously morph into new forms, so do the notions of reality and dream and the meanings behind good and evil. The artist’s fantastical worlds, much like the realm of the unconscious are free from the inherent judgment that is found in the conscious mind.
Laura Ball (1972, Syracuse, NY, USA; lives and works in San Diego, CA) creates an artistic world where scenes and creatures change constantly, drawn by the stream of the subconscious. Her surreal world comes up from the fluidity of the watercolor, attempting to freeze movements and shapes, like holding a mirror to our own strife and resilience. She studied at the University of California, Davis and in 2004 she earned her MFA at the University of California, Berkeley. Recent collective exhibitions include: (2009) Note to Self, Schroeder Romero, New York; Vous Avez Eté Juste Servi, LeBasse Projects, Los Angeles, CA; Malice and Anxiety, Peter Miller Gallery, Chicago, IL; Aftermath, PULSE Miami (with Kopeikin Gallery); Family Pictures, Root Division Gallery, San Francisco, CA; (2010) Cynosure: New York form East Bay Galleries, Worth Ryder Gallery, Berkeley, CA; NEXT, Chicago Art Fair (with Kopeikin Gallery); San Francisco Art Fair (with Swarm Gallery); New & Improved, Morgan Lehman Gallery, New York; Transparency and Transformations in American Art, U.S. Embassy, Stockholm, Sweden; Things are Expanding, Swarm Gallery, Oakland, CA. Recent solo exhibitions were held at Morgan Lehman Gallery (New York), Swarm Gallery (Oakland), David B. Smith Gallery (Denver), Bucheon Gallery (San Francisco), Peter Miller Gallery (Chicago), Paul Kopeikin Gallery (Los Angeles).