She sits in the back corner of the room, playing with dolls, rearranging their bodies, giving them warrior helmets and spikey hairdos. She is unassuming, an artist in her workshop. Her name is Laura Hosaluk, and she is the current artist-in-residence at AKA gallery.
It’s funny how my work brings me here, to Laura. She and I go back years—two wild and free women wandering Saskatoon, searching for truth. We talk of days long since past, the music and art that brought us together in friendship, and the many ways the pursuit of art has shaped who we are today. The journey is about growth. All ways. We talk of human relationship, which for both of us is a painful and beautiful source of creative inspiration. And we talk of how when that shit just gets too painful, too messy, we turn to nature again and find inspiration in Her.
Laura’s current project deals with human anatomy through the refurbishing of ceramic child dolls. Her desk is covered in all kinds of antique treasures. Laura tells me they are mostly ‘found objects’, traces of the left-behind, something a person used and then discarded. When Laura comes across these objects, they “surrender themselves” to her, as if the objects want to become a part of her artistic vision. Laura speaks of the “generosity of the objects” and how working with them becomes a sort of “communion”.
As a young girl, Laura worked with wood through surface design and finishing alongside her father, Michael Hosaluk, an accomplished artist here in Saskatoon. This education provided Laura with the tools to create art on her own while exploring a variety of mediums from painting to sculpture to construction. She also remembers her weekly Sunday ritual of attending flea markets, going through piles of history to find the perfect recycled treasure. “I come from a long line of ‘garage salers’. It’s a cult”, she says, smiling at memories. “I’m sure my work would be much different if it was church I was going to every Sunday morning”.
I ask Laura about her artistic process of ‘revamping’ these dolls. How did she know which object to use and how to work it into the bodies of the dolls? Laura describes the experience: “I guess it’s sitting with something long enough to see beyond the object’s original function and finding a new narrative”. She then pulls out a rusty old saw tool with two long, serrated edges. Laura holds the saw vertically and shows me how the bladed legs become human legs just by looking at them a certain way. I laugh. It was like being a kid again, imagining life beyond conventionality.
Laura’s residency at AKA goes from March 7th to April 20th and will end with an exhibition at Slate Gallery in Regina. From June 7th- 9th she will lead the “Particle Mandala” project at the Saskatoon Children’s Festival with Joseph Naytowhow and Lori Petruskevich. Together, they will build a mandala made of organic materials that will be dismantled and returned to earth once it is finished. The intention is to create something beautiful without attachment to the end product. Build. Then destroy. Laura and I talk about the importance of this non-attachment in our own
artistic endeavors. She acknowledges, “When the final product outweighs the process, it’s no longer about the process. It’s about control”.
Laura sells or gifts the majority of her pieces. Rather than holding on to her creations, she finds beauty in the idea of someone else having them up in their home. Laura’s paintings, dolls, and other unique creations are for sale at www.laurahosaluk.com.
Stop in at AKA to visit Laura and check out the amazing current installation Bells & Airplanes by Michal Gignac, a Saskatoon-based artist now living and drawing inspiration from life in the Yukon.