For centuries, artists have looked to ancient forms and motifs to develop their skills, and more than a few have brought such iconography into their own contemporary work, with all of the associations of the past tagging along for the ride. So what Laurie Fader has been up to may not be surprising on an academic level, yet her choice of motif and the relationships she builds to current events feels unique.
While a Visiting Scholar at The American Academy in Rome, (funded by Great Meadows Foundation) Fader connected to the history of the pre-Christian Vestal Virgins, six priestesses, representing the daughters of the royal house, who tended the state cult of Vesta, the goddess of the hearth. Their lives as living symbols of the state were extraordinarily privileged, circumscribed, and brutally shortened in the event of impropriety.
Fader writes, "My Vestal Virgin... evolved on large canvases as a kind of heroic figure embarking on odysseys relating to loss of freedom, uncontrollable climate change, and fear. Current events resonate and subliminally determine epic journeys, such as traveling with immigrants across a desert in a ‘rat truck’, or racing through a hurricane. A previously lighter, slightly humorous and self-effacing painting of a crying child turned darker when it was reported that children were being irreparably separated from their parents at the Mexican/US border.”
As the crisis on the United States/Mexico border escalates, and the American character struggles with its own inherent sense of privilege, Fader’s use of the Vestal Virgins casts the dialogue in an oblique framework that allows a more removed perspective. Is such privilege earned or assumed?
Laurie Fader has been the recipient of many honors and awards, including a Pollock-Krasner Award, an Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Emergency Assistance Grant, and the Helen W. Winternitz Award for excellence in painting from Yale University. She has attended residencies in Italy, France, Haiti, Hungary, and Italy. Fader lived in New York City for 25 years where she taught at Pratt Institute, then lived in Baltimore where she taught at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She came to Louisville in 2011 to launch The Kentucky School of Art (now KyCAD), where she was Chair of Academic Affairs and Associate Professor. She is now a full-time practicing artist.
Garner Narrative welcomes Laurie Fader for her first solo show with the gallery, Odysseys. It runs December 7 through January 11, 2019 with an opening reception Friday December 7, 6 - 9 pm, and a closing reception Friday January 4, 6 - 9 pm.
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Education: BS, Honors, New York University, NYC; MFA, Painting, Yale School of Art.
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Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2018 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved. In addition to his work at the LVA, Keith is also the Managing Editor of a website, Arts-Louisville.com, which covers local visual arts, theatre, and music in Louisville.