Laurel O'Gorman, Veil, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 49.5 in. x 41.5 in.

How would you describe the work that you do?

What I express in my work is the lingering visual memory that nature imparts. That’s what inspires me. My recent watercolors that comprise the Tao Series include Meditations into Gaia, . . . Meditations into Peace . . . and the new work, Meditations into Allowing. They are examples of how I absorb and express the spiritual in nature through an abstract lens.

       Laurel O'Gorman, Veil (detail), 2008, acrylic on canvas, 49.5 in. x 41.5 in.

Are there ways in which you intend your work to challenge the viewer?

When I think of the word “intend,” I think of a preconceived idea. I don’t put the intention out there first. I try to clear my mind when I begin to work. . . . I love the preparation of the materials I’m going to work with. . . . This ritual helps move me into a more meditative space/place. It’s my hope in the end that the artist and viewer can let go of anything preconceived and be receptive to a new vision . . . [and] open to new possibilities.

O'Gorman with fabric work

Is there something you are currently working on that you are particularly excited about?

A few years back, I started to explore printing my watercolors on fabric. . . . I went to a commercial printer where they have large rolls of fabric . . . and print right from the digital image. . . . The imagery takes on different expressions based on the chosen fabric. I chose a voile fabric, which has a little bit of a see‐through quality and it is  soft and fluid. You could use air or a breeze on it to add movement. I’m excited about the possibilities that will come from a new medium.

What have been the greatest challenges to your art career and how do you navigate them?

My greatest challenge has been accepting my own artistic expressions and continually moving forward with trust. . . . So, in my exploration, I want to push further into the depth of how I can express the spiritual in nature.

What advice has influenced you or your art making?

In recent years, a friend reminded me, that it’s in the doing that your vision can be released, . . . it’s in the doing that something happens. . . . And there’s certainly a level of patience with self that comes with creating. . . . Another piece of advice I was reminded of recently is that we are all equal. We are all individual and unique, but we are all equal. 

In the studio

How do you know when you have been successful?

I use a different word for successful . . . satisfied, which is in the eyes of the artist. That’s a big conversation probably . . . but when I feel satisfied with the work is when I no longer feel the need to make changes. Using the piece for the [Stepping Back, Looking Forward] show as an example, I have painted over the canvas so many times, I can’t even count. But one fall, I was doing a lot of walking and picking up leaves and I finally got the notion to connect with nature through leaves. . . . I was also playing with the notion of metallic. . . . Gold is used in [religious] iconography, so in that context it symbolizes something that you hold dear and sacred. . . . My spiritual background is where the metallic idea came from . . . but until I reached that top layer, I was not satisfied. It’s a knowing, and if I don’t have that knowing, I just put it away and keep coming back to it until it feels right, complete.

Why did you choose to pursue the life of a professional artist?

My first thought is that art chose me at a very early age. As time went by, it stayed with me, kind of like a friend. It feeds my soul. . . . In the last eight to ten years, I’ve found that it is my responsibility to allow it to come through me, . . . it’s what I must do. . . . I go to a drawing co‐op each week, and I’ve been kind of struggling, thinking “Why am I doing this?” and the other day, my sister said I should just let it take over . . . allow it to take over . . . surrender without judgment.

In your opinion, how is being a woman artist in 2015 different from what it might have been like one, two, three or even four decades ago?

This brings me back to the 1980s and my work as a gallery director at St. Catherine’s. . . . I have a list of all the shows we did. . . . St. Catherine’s was offering exhibitions for women and WARM was a wonderful resource at that time. . . . There were certainly limited opportunities, but I feel my contribution at the time was offering exhibition opportunities to other women artists . . . and it was a precious time. Since then, I see slow change, but it’s certainly a lot different than what it was in the 1980s. I’m not talking about the equality, I’m just talking about the opportunities for women to show their work. I see in the Twin Cities that all the arts are honored here. We are very fortunate to live in the community we live in.

In the studio

Does personal history work its way into your practice? How might who you are be reflected in your current work?

I think my large paintings, as opposed to my watercolors, are very much layers of my history because I paint over paintings, . . . the history is built into the whole piece. . . . It makes me feel that all those years [of layers] were saying something . . . and then it took me a long time to even know what they were saying. . . . The history is recorded in the layers.

Are there certain ways in which you identify yourself as a feminist artist?

Laurel O'Gorman

My mission is to express what is uniquely me. I am a woman . . . but my goal is to let go of creating for any reason beyond my own self‐expression. So, my individual perspective hopefully comes through in my work, . . . it’s all about exploring who we are through our personal vision.



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