Morgan Lehman is pleased to present “Sirens Sing You to Shipwreck”, Laura Ball’s first New York solo exhibition. Ms. Ball’s watercolors and oil paintings incorporate journeys, trials, and transformation woven into narratives that resemble contemporary fairy tales. Modern day struggles of the subconscious unfold into playful conflict among surreal and dreamlike landscapes. Gender politics, the environment, and violence are themes embedded within her fantastical narratives.
In these scenarios, her human subjects and animals are in a struggle with each other and their environment. The oil paint and watercolors themselves become a subjective antagonist and a force opposing the adventurers. Reality and perception are bent as the foreground disappears, only to reappear later in a flood of rainbow colors. Women find themselves adrift in a swirling river filled with hippos, where the thick, painted lines of the river current seem as menacing as the submerged behemoths. Pattern and color weave throughout the work in shifting densities as the varied brushwork seems to reflect the various roles and emotions of the figures’ adventures.
The myth of the hero, or heroine, is a universal one. Themes of “the call to adventure”, only to face struggle and eventual transformation exist in every culture. Using Joseph Campbell’s “A Hero with a Thousand Faces” as a road map for the obstacles Ball’s heroines confront, vibrant colors and exotic animals help create a fantastical world where one must undertake a journey, fraught with peril in order to gain a great prize or personal truth. The characters are seen riding elephants, crossing precarious thresholds, or fighting sea monsters. The animals, while skillfully rendered, resemble the animals of carousel rides, emphasizing the playful aspects of her work. The beautifully crafted line and use of vibrant, yet feminine color help to create the sense of otherworldliness.
These works display an epic struggle, suggestive of an archetypal rite of passage, but their dreamlike and surreal qualities are created from specific sources. Ball draws on memories from her visits to Disneyland and other southern California theme parks as a child, and from her recent travels to Greece and King Ludwig’s castles in Germany to create the back drops to her narratives. She also works from controlled situations in which she photographs her mother and three sisters acting out and posing to re-create the confrontation and drama found in her narrative works.
Laura Ball currently lives and works in Monterey, CA. She received her BS from the University of California, Davis, and her MFA from the University of California, Berkley. Her work has been exhibited at The Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA, The Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, CA, Thomas Rehbein Gallery, Cologne, Germany, Peter Miller Gallery, Chicago, IL, Paul Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, and Swarm Gallery, Oakland, CA and is held in private and corporate collections internationally.