"Through the Labyrinth" with A. Laura Brody
To understand the magic in mobility, you would have to re-imagine history through the labyrinth of possibilities. A. Laura Brody finds innovation at the base of the Angeles Crest Forest, re-using and re-purposing the movement of some and the un-used materials of others.
Originally from Fairbanks Alaska, Laura Brody is a lover of original creations and original thought. She is a tinkerer, a maker and an idealist known for bringing out the enchantment and beauty from the discarded. While mostly creating with recycled wheelchairs, walkers, and mobility scooters, the discovery of innovation quickly shifts matter into sculptural works of art.
Besides re-use, she is passionate about social history, mythology, reading, music, cooking, re-use, and learning to make as many things as possible by herself. Although self-motivated, Brody finds inspiration from key players that have improved the thought process of her creations.
“Michelangelo’s artistry and his range of interests, by Georgia O’Keefe’s and Louise Bourgeois’ courage and conviction, by the deeply personal stories of Colette and the beautiful humanity of Billie Holliday’s songs. All these artists inspired me to broaden my perspectives wherever possible, to keep on working, and to keep my work human.” – Laura Brody
With a strong background in theater, costume design and costume making, she see’s her art and any art as a way of starting conversation. In love with the collaborative process, there is hope in being able to build a world without discrimination of our bodies no matter what has happened to them. Brody expresses that the use of art is a way to find collaborators and kindred spirits. Her effectiveness in sharing her ideas helps people think differently about re-use, fashion and disability. She believes strongly that we all can be truly amazing in any form we have become.
“We are all buried treasure. My works draw from the history of art: the flowing shapes of Art Nouveau, the embellishments of the Victorians and the line quality of Klimt and Schiele. These sculptures are conceived with a commitment to social justice and are inspired by the spirit of scientific discovery. They are playful with a practical touch. They are meant to encourage conversation, audience participation and to inspire radical rethinking of the meanings of disability and adaptive aids.” – Laura Brody
When Brody creates, she thinks with her hands. It is natural for her to incorporate old world costume, couture, and specialty craft techniques. The incorporation of these together work enhancing detail while giving them depth. She includes her love of art history, social history, mythology, humor, and storytelling in each piece. As a child, Brody told her own stories by rebuilding dolls and sock puppets while taking apart radios only to reassemble them again. Although she could not make explosions combining her EZ Bake Oven and her chemistry set she continued to create and overcome set backs.
Laura’s father is an artist and even though she had committed to not being an artist herself, she soon changed her mind after finding out that costume design and construction was a real job. With the love of costumes, history and old myth, she basked in the opportunity to design her first costume for her boyfriend at the time in high school. Although the first design was awful, she knew that this was only, the lacking of skill and still loved the process. This brought her to study costumes, costume design and studio art in college. She then graduated, conquered her skill set and morphed into an amazing artist doing everyday what she loves.
“There was always a part of me that wanted to change the world. When it became clear that I could not get there with costumes, I went back to art. Art is such a graceful way of introducing people to new ideas, new perceptions, and new concepts. It’s an amazing way to start a conversation." – Laura Brody
Her interest in the items she uses came from experiencing the events associated with her former boyfriend’s stroke.
“I was fascinated by adaptive technology, which the term for these devices, plus any other device that helps folks with, say, limited vision or mobility or motor function. But I wondered if it had to be so very hideous. Surely we could do better! So I started building a new wheelchair and made astonishing mistakes. I started to learn how much more I had to learn. I found out how few interesting designs for wheelchairs ever make it to market. I found hidden taboos, denial, discomfort, and a surprising amount of resistance to the idea of making assistive technology beautiful.” – Laura Brody
Stubbornness gave Laura the determination to create beauty in mobility. Not giving up led her to mounting her third installation of Opulent Mobility. This is a group exhibit showcasing works dealing with disability, mobility, and access.
“As I developed the Opulent Mobility group exhibits, I’ve taken a very different route with the art than I do with costumes or specialty crafts. I give myself a full year to build a piece and document the process along the way. This gives me the luxury of not building to budgetary limits or to deadline, which is how I work professionally. I allow myself the time to incorporate many different procedures, to make mistakes, to try new techniques and to envelop myself in the process. In a way, that process is more important to me than the finished pieces. Each piece now incorporates hints of history, both my own and of social and art history.” – Laura Brody
Laura Brody uses art to change the world. The romance of her mind brings the history from her heart and it is as if her purpose here in life is to empower the movement in change and encourage the art in all of us. She leaves a maze of mystery and her artwork is as a story line open to imagination and love. She believes in applied empathy and giving outlets to be creative making the impossible possible. Without art in our world and in our lives, people do not connect.
“Art is a wonderful way to bring us different bits and pieces from other peoples’ perspectives and modes of thought. It can open our minds if we let it. Art forms make new modes of thought and living possible and imaginable.” –Laura Brody
Written By Skye Amber Sweet
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