I am thrilled to be presenting this young emerging artist who is sure to make a name for herself in the art world. Hailing from rural Virginia, Lara Mossler’s work is brimming with a youthful energy and vitality that is ageless. Her work speaks, bearing witness to the old philosophy that a picture is worth a thousands words. Fall under the glare of “My Madonna” and I dare you not to be moved. Below, Mossler reflects on her work and inspirations. To learn more about Mossler’s work visit www.laramossler.com or http://postmedium.com/laramossler/2769/paintings. Enjoy!
Name: Lara Mossler
Title/position/mediums: Artist and strategist
Examples of work: See below
Born in rural Virginia in 1989, Lara McKinney Mossler painted throughout her childhood, winning awards, and exhibiting her work in regional galleries and shows. She moved to New York City at the age of sixteen to follow her passion for the arts, taking an internship at Leila Heller Gallery. Lara spent her time in museums, at artists’ studios, and painting at The New York Studio School. When her Assistant Curator internship concluded, Lara accepted an art-activities counselor position at Wediko Children Services in Boston. After teaching art in that treatment center for emotionally disturbed children throughout the summer, Lara was accepted to Tulane University on a full scholarship and with a strong desire to further her studies in art. She moved to New York City after graduation and is now a strategist at Bureau Blank and runs an art collective in Brooklyn.
1. What does wholehearted and mindful living mean to you?
Madeleine L’Engle writes that “If we are to be aware of life while we are living it, we must have the courage to relinquish our hard-earned control of ourselves.” This quote and her entire book, Walking on Water, have been tremendously helpful in understanding that having an awareness of the moment is not about developing more discipline or adding to a daily routine but rather letting the work take over. And, that takes guts.
2. How do you practice wholehearted and mindful living?
I use the quiet morning to practice listening. It’s a three part process that starts with my mind, then body, then craft. The routine, though I’m open to revelation, is that I wake up fifty or so minutes before the sun rises and make tea. This darkness before the light is my favorite time of day, and I call it the holy hour because I pray and read. When the sun is fully risen, I switch to water and warm up the body with an hour of Vinyasa yoga (Yoga to the People 7 AM is a good one). Finally, I make a cup of coffee and begin in the studio. I give myself only an hour of painting before getting ready and biking to work in Chinatown.
3. What or who inspires you?
Artists are a living mystery, and I surround myself with ones from a variety of disciplines, ages and stages of their career. Now, I know them as friends but in rural Virginia as a kid, I learned about artists in the library and on the internet. I admired the work of visual artists such as Cecily Brown, Elizabeth Peyton, Lisa Yuskavage, and Swoon. Later, the list included Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Mel Chin, Tracey Emins, and Pina Bausch. Pivotal moments for me include reading The Shape of Content by Ben Shan and watching The Five Obstructions by Lars von Trier. Writers that I return to as frequently as daily include C.S. Lewis (The Screwtape Letters, Mere Christianity), Woody Allen (Complete Prose of Woody Allen) and Isak Dinsen (Out of Africa).
4. Answer this quote: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one, wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver
The community of artists I belong to want to give art a renewed, rich life in a digital world. Rather than fighting against technology, we’re interested in using it to push painting further for the benefit of both the viewer and the artist, as well as making the entire process more accessible. In other centuries, painters have been deeply engaged at the forefront of innovation- there’s no reason it cannot be the same today. For me, that means a life of continuing to grow as a painter and honing my skills in technology. Of course, a big part of being mindful is having the flexibility and grace to adapt to wild life you’re meant to live, rather than the one you planned.
5. What words of wisdom would you offer to your younger self?
Be brutally honest. When you misjudge your budget, say so. When something hurts, speak up. When you do not understand, ask now and not later.
1. What is your creative process?
My process evolves constantly but there are a few elements that have remained consistent throughout the years. Short and long periods of uninterrupted time alone with the medium are critical. A daily touch of paint or ink or pencil creates that familiarity and looseness that keeps me fresh. Serious time away from a brush where I desperately want nothing else than to pick one up reminds me why I do it in the first place. “Ideas” in the traditional sense have become less important to me over the years. When I do have ideas, I write them down and put them away in a desk drawer. I’m more interested in the ideas that manifest themselves in the back of my brain and try to remain unnoticed rather than the ones that jump out onto a sheet a paper looking glamorous.
2. You discovered your passion for art at a young age, how have you weathered the challenges of being an artist?
The single most valuable asset as an artist is the ability to be financially independent. I was fortunate enough to do this by not being scared to always work, through both successful and slow times. I was a maid at an inn, a manager at an ice-cream shop and a waitress to name a few – do not hesitate to earn wages in a way that’s not trendy. Regardless of how well your art does, do not stop. After you sell out a show for the first time, be on time and prepared for your shift the next day. Working full-time wins you audiences of all kinds that you would have never encountered otherwise and gives you incredible time management skills. Secondly, learn skills from the people who love you. I picked up statistical analysis from my father and programming from a professor in college, both of which make up core components of my profession today. If your grandmother quilts or your uncle is a watchmaker, make it your mission to absorb it. Finally, write very specific thank-you notes. You are going to ask many favors in your lifetime as an artist. Whether it is borrowing a truck or catering a reception, communicate in detail exactly how that person’s contribution made that much of a difference in making the art come to life. People are often willing to help, and it means a lot to illustrate how each gesture makes a big difference together.
3. What is the relationship between art and service?
The artist is a servant to two ways. The first is be the recipient of the work that becomes designed in your head. It’s your duty and responsibility to see that your art comes to fruition. You never know who needs to see the piece you’re working on, and there’s no doubt that you are the perfect person to create it. The second to share your talent and enthusiasm with those around you. I was lucky enough to have opportunities to open my studio at a young age for lectures, panels, discussions and lessons. Later, I taught art to children in Boston and teens in New Orleans. There’s nothing quite like cultivating a passion for art in others, and I hope I have the privilege to continue teaching and mentoring for the rest of my life.
4. What do you hope is the impact and meaning of your work?
There isn’t a specific meaning or message that I intend to communicate through my art. Sure, there are things that I hold true when I make the piece and a viewer may intuitively understand what those truths are. The most important art pieces I’ve encountered have given me the mental and physical space to encounter myself. The most striking work I see feels like I’m looking in a mirror and encourages me to work through my own experiences. What I could hope for is that my work becomes a visual trigger for a moment where you’re able to explore something that’s been eluding you. Maybe it’s an emotion that feels less scary or more real. Perhaps it’s that what you are experiencing internally could be more intentional than you imagined. Ultimately, I hope that to gaze at my work is to feel joy.
5. What are you hoping to take from your residency in Finland?
This residency will involve long periods of uninterrupted time alone with the medium, and that excites me. I’m working with new Japanese materials and returning to the very first oil color palette that I conceived as a thirteen-year-old apprentice. I rediscovered it scribbled in my teenage bible on a trip back home. I have a few new photo shoots completed recently in Brooklyn that I’m packaging up in digital archives for the trip. I hope to come away with a significant amount of new work to share, new friends and additional perspectives on how to bring art and technology closer together.