Lea Basile Lazarus
I have spent the last few years creating a body of work that reflects the awareness and power of strength within our community. People have gathered together to express concern for issues that conflict with our communities’ beliefs and rights. As reflections of these concerns, expressive figures, text, and symbolic houses have become integral parts of my work. Words have woven in and out of my images, sometimes hardly recognizable, other times up front to be read loud and clear. The house structures might interact with figures or more recently have replaced them. My work has gotten increasingly more abstract. The frenetic marks that emerge are conversations, unrest, and passionate expressions of desires or beliefs; not necessarily meant to be heard.
Life is constantly changing around us. Covid-19 came upon us this past spring and this summer has been filled with social unrest. Our lives and our communities have changed, but the people in them have not. In the chaos and the confusion, I have found peace and time to reflect. Making art has been my outlet. Embossing, repurposing old art, drawing, printing, and paper pulp painting have created unique surfaces that express thoughts and emotions related to the “new normal” within our immediate community and the greater world.
I have found both contemporary printmaking and paper pulp painting effective ways to express my ideas. The techniques I use allow me to be actively engaged and spontaneous in my art making process. My entire body is always moving, from mixing inks or pigments in paper pulp, to cutting stencils, to making marks or writing words using a variety of tools with the gestural movement of my arm. The mental and physical energy it takes to think, move, and react to the images that are emerging is what makes this process so exciting and invigorating. The exploration of these materials and contemporary processes has allowed me to artistically express my feelings about our fundamental needs: to belong and to feel safe.
Lea received her BA in Art Education from The College of New Jersey and her MFA, with a concentration in Printmaking, from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has been teaching for 28 years, the last 4 years at Beacon Academy. In Lea’s teaching career she has been a recipient of a Teacher Fulbright trip to Japan, spending three weeks abroad learning about Japan’s culture, art, and education system. Through a non-profit organization called Do Your P’Art, Lea was sent to Africa to visit Ghanaian schools and villages. Also, through Do Your P’Art, she designed and implemented collaborations with Chicago Public Schools on social justice art projects. In addition to teaching children, Lea is a professional artist creating contemporary prints and paper pulp paintings, exhibiting and selling her artwork throughout the Chicago metropolitan area.