ARTIST PROFILE + INTERVIEW: Lorraine Bubar

Hello, readers!

I recently had a chance to interview local artist Lorraine Bubar via email.  In addition to being an incredibly talented artist who has exhibited at TAG Gallery at Bergamot Station and the Rose Café in Venice, she also taught me art in middle and high school for three years!  

Artist Profile

Lorraine specializes in glorious papercuts that are utterly vivid and dazzling.  Her work is almost impossibly intricate, leading the viewer to wonder how such detailed pieces of art could result from cutting paper (that activity we all tried and failed at in kindergarten art classes).  Her pieces often focus on flora and fauna in nature, but occasionally introduces a human element to her oeuvre.  She also works in paintings and in mixed media, but her papercuts are her specialty and her greatest successes.  

Lorraine's work will be featured in TAG Gallery's upcoming exhibit, which runs from September 7th-28th.

Now retired from teaching and making art full-time, Lorraine also likes to run marathons in her spare time.  When she taught at my high school, she always had the best (art or artist-related) Halloween costumes: she painted her face like a Lichtenstein cartoon, or gave herself a class Salvador Dalí mustache as the costume demanded.

Enjoy!

"Breaking Away".  Papercut.  Used with permission.

Artist Interview

I On the Arts:  When did you start making art?  What's your art background?

Lorraine Bubar: For as long as I can remember, I spent a good portion of my free time doing creative projects.  It ranged from arts and crafts at summer camp, to being an arts and crafts director at summer camp, to constantly doodling (which I still do obsessively), etc.

I went to UCLA and studied art and biology with the idea of working as a biological illustrator.  I loved the botany and entomology classes where we romped through the outdoors looking at specimens, identifying them, and drawing them.  During that time I became fascinated with animation, especially the short films being created in Europe and Canada.  I did graduate work in film at Yale because John and Faith Hubley, incredible film makers, were teaching there.  I then worked in the animation industry for many years, animating (by hand!) for television commercials, movie titles, and animated special effects for feature films.  I taught animation at Santa Monica Community College's Academy of Entertainment and Technology and that began a career of teaching.  I began teaching drawing and painting, first at the elementary school level, and then to middle and high school students. That taught me to appreciate on a much deeper level the magic and mystery of creating two dimensional art.

IOtA:  What drew you to paper cutting?  What other media do you use?

LB: I was drawn to papercutting because I realized that so many cultures create papercuts which are used in many ways, to decorate for holidays, as family trees, as calendars, and to mark other life events.  From Mexico, Japan, China, Poland, to Pennsylvania, many people created papercuts with simple tools, not even with the idea of them lasting.  Many of the Eastern European Judaic papercuts, my own heritage, that were created by young boys at school did not endure over time.  I became fascinated with the idea of created a "craft" that connected me to this rich global heritage.  I have traveled extensively in many Asian countries and am also attracted to the imagery and materials found there.  My papercuts are created from papers made in Nepal, India, Japan, and Thailand.  Many women artists have been relegated to creating "crafts" as their form of expression, whether it was needlework, weaving, and ceramics.  In my work I am also enjoying taking a traditional craft and elevating the form with a more painterly approach.  Now I am excited to feel part of a large group of artists working with paper in very creative ways.  Paper is an amazing art material and has so much strength, texture, and flexibility. Contemporary artists are working with paper in diverse and creative ways that range from sculptural to street art.

I spent many years working with transparent watercolor and colored pencil. I developed a technique where I put frisket, a masking material, on watercolor paper and gently used an exacto knife to remove pieces of the masking material.  I then airbrushed smooth transitions of color onto the exposed areas of the watercolor paper.  When I switched to creating papercuts, I had already been using an exacto knife, which is what I use exclusively now to create my art.

"Our Children".  Painting. Used with permission.


IOtA: What artists inspire you?  What else inspires you?

LB: I am inspired by the beautiful world around me.  In my upcoming show, My Lovely Planet, at TAG Gallery in Bergamot Station, I am celebrating the diverse ecosystems of my world.  I am inspired by the art that I see when I travel the world and hike in the mountains in California.  I get excited when I run across artists that I have not heard of before, but for some reason, come to my attention at exactly the right moment.  Currently I am very excited by the art of Frances Gearhart.  I saw her work at the Pasadena Museum of California Art.  She was an important Southern California Color Block Print artist.  She depicted the California mountains with her handcrafted aesthetic.  I just discovered the art of Margaret Armstrong, a book cover designer, that worked at the same time as Frances Gearhart (early 1900's).  Because I love hiking, I also love the fact that she and some friends were the first women to descend to the floor of the Grand Canyon where she discovered some new flower species.  She published "Field Book of Western Wildflowers," with over five hundred of her drawings.

IOtA: How long have you been exhibiting?  What's that experience been like?

LB: I have been exhibiting my work for thirty years or so, but some years I put more effort into exhibiting it.  I have only been working in my papercut technique for the last five years and have had several exhibits of exclusively papercuts.  It is always very exciting to have an exhibit.  My work is always very personal.  Years ago I realized that people do not need to know the personal story in my work, but will "read" into it their own stories.  It is always a lot of fun to engage with people to get their reactions.

IOtA: What has most challenged you as an artist?

LB:  My biggest challenge right now is that I have lots of ideas of new work, but my work is labor intensive.  It is always a pleasure to have big blocks of time to work and develop a rhythm.  Life does not always allow that.  There are always lots of interruptions--lots of good ones too.

"Make a Wish".  Mixed media. Used with permission.

IOtA:  How did you get into teaching art?  What has been your favorite moment as an art teacher?

LB: I got into teaching art originally from working in the animation industry. I went from working on projects to teaching beginning animation.  I became committed to teaching when my daughters were young and I saw the need for more creative art education.  I went from volunteering at their elementary school to working at another elementary school, being paid by the parent fund raising.  I also really enjoyed working with the Education Department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  For many years I was among their diverse group of artists who created projects for their Family Days, where children could participate in creating art related to whatever was being exhibited in the galleries.

IOtA: Did you prefer teaching art to making art?

LB: Teaching art never stopped being such a wonderfully creative experience.  I learned so much about art from my students and from breaking down my own art experiences in order to share my expertise and love of art.

Now I am working on my art full time.  I am enjoying it because I can let my creative process evolve further.

IOtA: How did you balance teaching and making art when you taught?

LB: It was very difficult to balance teaching and making art.  Teaching always came first and there was never a moment I was not thinking about teaching: what art to expose my students to, what project would be great for them to do next, what challenges to create for them....

"Conflict". Papercut. Used with permission.

IOtA: What has been the most exciting moment for you as an artist?

LB: I had the good fortune to be selected to create a calendar that was sold at the gift shop at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  For a period of time, they used to select one artist a year to create a calendar that was printed like a twelve page portfolio.  It was beautifully produced.  They do not run this competition any more, but that was great fun!  Now my favorite moments are being at my own art openings where people I know come from all different aspects of my life.  I also really enjoy talking to the new people I meet about my art.  I enjoy watching people look at my art because at first they usually do not realize that they are created out of paper.  At first glance they look like color block prints but as you walk up to them you can appreciate that they are created from six to eight layers of paper and the depth and texture becomes more apparent.  Then there is this "wow" moment of "Wow, these are papercuts!"

IOtA: What do you hope people take away from your work?

LB: In my current show, "My Lovely Planet", I hope people will immerse themselves in how I tried to capture all aspects of each ecosystem: the color, flora, fauna, movement, and depth.  I also hope they will appreciate the handcrafted aesthetic of the work.


Comments

  1. Excellent interview. You presented very good questions to her and she "talked" so easily about her art and her ideas that this was wonderful to read. I will go see the show for sure!

    ReplyDelete

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