Laura Berger on Working Long Hours and Learning from Yourself

Laura Berger is a contemporary artist based in Chicago whose alluring painting style takes a geometric approach to the human form. Employing hypnotic symmetry and a beguiling color palette, her art explores themes of power, strength, solidarity, femininity, and the environment.

Berger joins our International Women’s Day collection with an 11-color screen print based on a painting exhibited in her recent solo exhibition, Find Ourselves Here at Stephanie Chefas Projects in Portland, Oregon. In our exclusive interview, the artist tells us about relationships, working long hours, and the fight for equal treatment.

Laura Berger with Ace Hotel mural in Palm Springs, FL. Photo by Kate Naylor.

1xRUN: Tell us a little bit about this piece, anything immediate you would like us to highlight about this image?
Laura Berger:
I had several ideas in mind when I was making this piece — our relationship to each other and to our environment, the embodiment of power and power structure in general, and the contrast and connection between the ideas of strength and grace.

1x: Is this piece a part of an ongoing series?
The painting that this print was derived from was exhibited in my last solo show, Find Ourselves Here.

1x: Can you tell us more about that show?
The show was on view last December through early January this year at Stephanie Chefas Projects in Portland, and was comprised of around 23 paintings on canvas and linen.

1x: Tell us about your execution of this image.
The original painting was acrylic on canvas, it was 24” x 24”. For these editions we’ve created two hand pulled 11-color screen prints.

1x: What were your earliest interactions with art growing up?
I’ve drawn and painted since I can remember. Creative projects were my favorite outlet growing up — I also sang, danced, played instruments, participated in theater.

1x: Who or what was a prominent figure that played a role in your formation as an artist?
I think that some difficult and traumatic experiences that I had actually ended up being the most formative for my path as both a person and an artist, and were ultimately the reason I turned to painting.

1x: What are some of the biggest challenges to being a working artist?
Most working artists work a LOT of hours each day / week, and I think there can be a lot of misconceptions around how much work it is to do [art] full time. It’s a hustle for sure, but the time does slip away so quickly when you’re doing things you enjoy, so those 12+ hour days can zip past super quickly. I struggle most with the isolation that comes with a solitary job like this — working by myself for many hours a day is not super suited for my personality, and I have to make sure I’m making time each week to see other humans so I don’t get depressed.

1x: In what ways is the art industry becoming more or less accepting and equitable for women?
I think it seems similar to how everything is feeling for women and other groups: like there is more awareness happening and everyone is at least trying to try harder right now, but we’re certainly not “there” yet. We have a long way to go for things to feel equitable. But I also do feel a lot of powerful and more vocal energy around our communal and continued fight. A couple of good things about internet culture is the inherent transparency around these issues, and the sense of global connectedness that’s opening up. There’s a much wider platform, which can hopefully inspire wider understanding and opportunities for more immediate dialogue to happen.

1x: What are changes that you would like to see?
Equal representation, equal pay, equal respect, equal treatment, equal rights. For all humans.

1x: What artists have inspired you in the past? Who are some artists that inspire you today?
Helen Frankenthaler, Hilma af Klint, Lygia Clark, Etel Adnan, Marina Abramovic, Clare Rojas, Carmen Herrera, Margaret Kilgalen, Georgia O’Keefe, Christina Ramberg

1x: What advice would you give to an aspiring artist?
Just keep at it every day — you have to always try to make yourself make things even when you’re scared to try or don’t feel like trying. Persist, travel, and never stop learning from yourself and others. And be gentle to yourself (I am bad at this but I stand by the advice haha).

1xRUN: Where else can people find you?
Laura Berger: