Laura Sharp Wilson

Artist’s Statement

When falling asleep as a child my mind vacillated between two visions, one being a clear open plane, the other, a sort of garbage dump filled with an intense myriad of texture and color. I define this experience as a contrast between confusion and clarity, a play between what is simple, pure and easy to comprehend and that which is muddled, dense and uncertain. This tension between disparate forces is the undercurrent in my work.

If you are looking, building a visual language will come easily – it may take time but it will come. My work is an amalgamation of abstraction, textile design, knot formations and fantastical botanical structures. Growing up in the 1970’s and 1980’s abstraction seemed the definition of contemporary art. Abstraction was possibly the easiest to make, yet the hardest to understand. Abstraction was nothing yet it encompassed everything. When Bill McKibben’s “End of Nature” was published in 1989 I began introducing botanical forms as a way of empathizing with and empowering nature. In my late 20’s I felt my art making needed a specific application and I turned to creating surface pattern design for textiles. Working with fabric made me think about threads and tangled skeins. When I returned to painting I made delineated knots, inherently chaotic but clear and precise in their presentation.

Elements of my work are physically rooted in textile design –from Constructivist designs of Vavara Stepanova to Indian palampore (bed curtains) from the 18th century. The delineated renderings of Keith Haring have influenced my flat way of working. I have imitated the way Chris Ofili uses repeated small dots to make a space active. Yayoi Kusama and Adolph Wolfi have inspired my obsessive, crowded compositions.

There are two ways my paintings start, with a general form or a clear visual concept. I build paintings adding a step to the one before allowing the painting to become dense. I will develop it until it enters the visual forum I have invented. Seldom does a painting look the way I might imagine, this is the dialogue and adventure I seek.

Laura Sharp Wilson received her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg and her MFA from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. She has been exhibiting her work nationally since the mid-1990s, and had her 20th solo exhibition at McKenzie Fine Art in New York this spring. Additionally, her work has been included in scores of group exhibitions in museums and galleries throughout the United States. Her distinctive and idiosyncratic wood-mounted acrylic paintings on paper have been reviewed in Hyperallergic, New American Paintings, and the Los Angeles Times, among others. Although she was born in New Jersey and raised on the East Coast, Wilson currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah.
This entry was posted in Visual Art and tagged by Posit Editor. Bookmark the permalink.

About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis ( is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit ( and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (winner of the Washington Prize), Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Walkers in the City (Rain Taxi), They Said (Black Lawrence Press), and Resist Much, Obey Little (Dispatches/Spuyten Duyvil), as well as in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, and VOLT.