Q&A with Silver Bay artist Lauri Olson-Hohman
Lauri Olson-Hohman makes her home in Silver Bay, where she is an avid athlete, explorer, photographer, devoted grandmother and full-time artist. A show of her art, entitled “Bee Crazy and Wild,” is currently on display at the Vanilla Bean Cafe in Two Harbors and will be up through mid-August. She defines her work as “mixed media.” She said that most of her art is repurposed; she often takes old paintings, sands them down and creates new art on the canvas and frames. All of the pieces in this series somehow incorporate bees. She also has cards available for purchase at the cafe, the Coho Cafe in Tofte, Cedar Chest in Beaver Bay, featuring photos of her rock balancing work. She answered five questions for the News-Chronicle about her creative process and work.
Q: Who are your favorite artists and how have they influenced your work?
A: (Pablo) Picasso and (Joan) Miró. I like the abstract and playfulness of both artists.
Q: Balancing rock art is transient -- it almost never lasts more than a day. What is it like to put a lot of work into something that is temporary?
A: The rock balance has more to do with being outside, touching nature, finding the balance and letting go … it really fits what life is really all about. The photo (of the rock balance) is just a reminder of the beauty and its many different forms.
Q: What was the process like to create your "Bee Crazy and Wild" pieces? How long did each piece take?
A: “Bee Crazy and Wild” was all about fun and nature. First, I had to find old paintings (the kind that everyone had hanging above their sofa at one time) and then either just paint over them or sand a bit and paint over it, also painting the frames in a new bright color. I like not having things perfect, so to recycle, reuse or repurpose fits and is wise. Each piece takes about three to four days depending on how big and the design. My process also involves fabric, acrylics, inks and the bee stamp. “Bee Crazy” means love the living things of the earth and “Wild” means love nature and what is still left of it. I once read that the only thing that really satisfies us is what we need: water, fresh air, fresh food, healthy animals, people, love and a healthy lifestyle. Instead, we continue to chase after our "wants" which can never be satisfied, and that is why we keep chasing them. So when we learn to get back to the healthy basics … to feel, touch and care about nature (every aspect of our environment), then we will be thankful that our needs are filled and quit destroying nature because of selfish wants ... I could go on and on about this one, but that's enough for now.
Q: Do you ever experience periods of "creative block" where it's hard for you to come up with subject matter or inspiration? How do you get through it?
A: Oh, yes! I get creative blocks when my work doesn't sell and I focus on that (wondering what I am doing wrong or should be doing. However, I have been "different" forever, so I bounce back after I get in nature and do my thing. I am a nature lover and outside everyday. It feeds my soul and my heart. Sometimes with blocks, you need to let it be and just wait, which is the hardest! However, being creative is being in the flow and the more you stay in it the more creative you are. So, I focus on what is and what I love.
Q: You are an athlete and spend a lot of time outdoors. How does living on the North Shore influence your art?
A: Me being an athlete and spending time outdoors is everything to me, especially if I can include my grandkids. It influences everything about me and my art. I grew up playing in the woods, building forts, swimming in the rivers, swinging on Tarzan swings, hiking, picking hazelnuts and berries, balancing across logs laid over rivers, running from bear and moose when we would see them, shooting guns and bows and arrows, raiding apple trees, making mud dolls, playing in the rain, skating, sliding, skiing … you name it. I still try to do most of this -- no apple tree is safe. I believe most of my art is from Mother Nature and the beauty she shares. When I dive into a river, I see color and almost always a complete painting in my mind's eye. If I could capture what I see, I would be a money rich, famous artist before I die. However, I am very rich, as rich is a healthy, well-rounded lifestyle and I have that. I am grateful for that and for a very supportive group of family and friends