“When artists give form to revelation, their art can advance, deepen and potentially transform the consciousness of their community.” ~ Alex Grey
One of the many things that make Asheboro a great place to live is the vibrant art scene. From the various sculptures around town to the exhibitions that are sponsored and hosted by local businesses, art has become a huge part of our city’s charm and appeal. On any given day, you can walk into a number of businesses around town and find world-class art on display. It was one such experience that brought me in contact with Asheboro resident and millennial artist, Laura Thompson.
There is a lot of negative talk about millennials these days. Tune into any newscast or read the headlines of any newspaper on any given day, and one could conclude that the blame for the demise of the world rests squarely on the shoulders of the millennial generation. But, as Laura so aptly points out, “while the generalizations may be partially true, everyone is an individual.” Not only does Laura have a very solid head on her shoulders, she is very ambitious, well read and introspective beyond her years. But most of all, she is a talented artist.
I discovered Laura at Lumina Wine and Beer. She was the featured artist in April and when I walked in one evening, two of her paintings really spoke to me on an emotional level. I asked Patty about the exhibit and she introduced me to the artist. I bought the paintings and they are now hanging in the Asheboro Magazine office. What I like most about these paintings is how simple they are in appearance and yet profound in interpretation. Art is subjective – one man’s masterpiece is another’s debacle. Simple elegance is how I refer to these pieces and they are certainly masterpieces as far as I am concerned.
Laura and her mother moved to Asheboro from Chapel Hill nine years ago. They were looking for a more community oriented place to live and Asheboro seemed to have everything they wanted. Although Laura won her first art award in first grade, she didn’t begin pursuing her creativity in earnest until college. In 2009, she attended Montserrat College of Art, a private art school in Beverly, MA. From there she went on to study art at Appalachian State University in Boone and fell in love with the art scene there. In 2011, her career started to take off. She began painting and when she’d put together enough pieces, she had her first exhibition. After selling her first piece of art, Laura felt she took her work to the next level.
Laura’s passion for art comes to her naturally. From an early age, her grandfather was a large influence. He would draw on the back of cardboard boxes, carve into cement or barn doors on the tobacco farm where he lived. He had a favorite caricature he liked to draw that he called “His Little Man.” After her grandfather passed away, they found tons of things that he had scribbled his art on. I was thrilled to hear the two pieces I bought were inspired by her grandfather’s art.
Unfortunately, very few artists are able to make a full-time living in their chosen profession. Laura works at the NC Zoo selling admission tickets while she takes welding classes at RCC. Her short term goal is to get an internship on the visual arts team at the Zoo, to acquire the skills she needs to get hired and become a permanent full-time member of the team.
Laura has a very tight schedule. She goes to school from 7 am to mid-afternoon, after which she might drop in to Lumina or if she’s feeling inspired, she goes home to paint. She spends most of her time in Asheboro, although she takes frequent trips to Boone for inspiration and to visit friends. She doesn’t own a computer, and although she has a Facebook profile, she feels that Facebook makes it difficult to have real conversations with people and that you lose the ability to have interactions with any meaning.
Currently, Laura is working on a self-portrait, which she is finding more difficult than she anticipated. One rule Laura tries to adhere to when creating a piece of art is not to second guess herself too much which she is finding very challenging painting her own likeness. Perhaps her mantra, “A little piece of the artist resides in every piece they create”, will be the inspiration she needs to bring the project to fruition. One thing is certain, like all of her art, it will undoubtedly be a creative expression of her emotions.