Laura Ledbetter

laura ledbetter

Artist's Statement

Elements of surprise and uncertainty are dominating forces in our modern society. Our society continues to exemplify the classical themes of man versus man and man versus nature.

Our instinctual desire to succeed and to dominate each other and our natural environment contributes to our current economic conditions. The burst of the housing market followed by the economic recession, revealed our inherent unforeseen vulnerability. Prior to these events there was a false since of security and awareness. Through constructed fragments of personal habitats and their relationship to other elements, I expose weaknesses.

By drawing and cut paper appliqué, I create situations and environments that appear pleasant and appealing from an initial glance, until further investigation. The hierarchical systems are fraught. The environments reveal information about man’s culture, economic position, concerns and preferences. The people are vague in scale and detail lending them to be nonspecific familiar individuals typifying worry, contemplation, generosity, self-absorption, ignorance and bliss with subdued tones of vulnerability. This body of work explores man.

Uncertainty is an increasingly dominating force in our modern society stimulated by our instinctual desire to succeed and to dominate each other as well as our natural environment. Our recent economic history exemplifies our inherent vulnerabilities, as well as exposes our increasing interconnected world’s effects globally, nationally and personally. Prior to the recent “Great Recession” there was a false since of security, control and individuality.

My recent works are assembled drawings that explore elements forced to coexist in an environment.   The constructions are created by physically crafting the entities connections through the tensioning of thread there by manipulating the elements creating an interdependent landscape of paper elements. The drawings are compilations of actions and reactions as the elements continue to move, loosen and tighten during construction and over time.

Curator's Statement

Often titled after her own family and friends, Laura Ledbetter’s elaborate narratives reflect an anxious Generation X-Millennial’s worldview. This post-recessionary world is a precarious place, requiring delicate balancing and constant vigilance. Beautiful surfaces yield to troubling details upon close examination.
Ledbetter’s figurative imagery is set within fantastical landscapes filled with flora and fauna. A recurring motif is the barefoot executive, sometimes appearing with such status symbols as an Eames lounge chair. The figures are usually separated by huge chasms of space, balancing on rickety linear constructs. Though beautiful, the imagery projects isolation and disconnection between the named subjects. Chuck and Lloyd refers specifically to the destructive role of the financial management firm Goldman Sachs in the 2008 recession. This drawing includes the message: “We’re like a machine, that lets people buy and sell what they want to buy and sell.”

Laura Ledbetter

Chuck and Lloyd (detail)

2011

Hover and scroll over image to enlarge.

Ledbetter’s figurative imagery is set within fantastical landscapes filled with flora and fauna. A recurring motif is the barefoot executive, sometimes appearing with such status symbols as an Eames lounge chair. The figures are usually separated by huge chasms of space, balancing on rickety linear constructs. Though beautiful, the imagery projects isolation and disconnection between the named subjects. Chuck and Lloyd refers specifically to the destructive role of the financial management firm Goldman Sachs in the 2008 recession. This drawing includes the message: “We’re like a machine, that lets people buy and sell what they want to buy and sell.”

Incorporating colored pencil, collage, sometimes even glitter, her work contrasts intricate lines with blocks of color. Recent abstract collages extend drawing into three-dimensional space by connecting stacked paper shapes with lines of thread.

Ledbetter uses highly refined techniques in making images influenced by medieval illumination and classic book illustration from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The artist is a modern day miniaturist whose drawings reveal tantalizing detail and reward close examination. Comparisons can be made with the British fin-de-siecle illustrator, Aubrey Beardsley in the shared critique of power and materialism that the two artists observe in their respective societies. The French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s story The Little Prince, beloved of adults and children alike, also has similarities in the construction of an alternate universe, rooted in our own. Both artists create narratives that seem to serve as cautionary fables. As with the finest book illustrations, the viewer is drawn into these elegantly constructed microcosms of a destabilized world.

Born and raised in Mississippi, Ledbetter now makes her home in Philadelphia.

Laura Roulet
Co-curator

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