KARL AND HELEN BURGER GALLERY
Look carefully at these grids patterned with wood fragments that resemble quilts. Discover more: clapboard siding, floorboards, cabinets, window frames. The intimate textures of this wood with its chipped layers of paint, nail holes, and other markings tell a story; their faded colors and worn surfaces suggest a prior life. Material and memory are closely linked; the domestic objects that surround us have become carriers of our stories, our identity. A little girl’s pink dresser decorated with kitten stickers; an avocado-green kitchen cabinet that once held precious heirloom china; a blue door frame that marked a growing child’s height; an orange screen door that slammed all summer long—these have a profound sense of embedded meaning.
This wood was gathered at sites affected by natural disasters. These include catastrophes such as Hurricane Sandy in 2013, the 2016 Great Smokey Mountains wildfires, and countless, endless nor’easters. The devastation experienced after such disasters is evident in the debris that littered the affected communities. In the aftermath, the once orderly neighborhoods and organized lives of residents were recognizable only as piles of haphazard rubble. My own story unfolded when I lived through Hurricane Sandy and was able to collect this material.
These artworks are about patterns and order. I found refuge and comfort in organizing and arranging the chaos back into patterns inspired by traditional patchwork quilts. Although my materials are quite different from those used in traditional quilts, what I seek to create is ultimately the same: an object of beauty and comfort, a whole pieced-together from discarded scraps. I want these wood quilts to offer second chances and hope.
Laura Petrovich-Cheney’s exhibition entitled Reconstruction is a profound assessment of contemporary issues merging with traditional folk art practices. In all of the artist’s recent sculpture, a dialogue exists between environmental and individual concerns. Much of Laura’s work is feminist in nature, incorporating traditional women’s arts such as needlework and quilting, which are then transformed through found and re-purposed materials. Laura’s dedication to her vision has been reflected in several shows, including the 2018 Memory and Material exhibit at the International Quilt Museum and What Remains at the Fuller Craft Museum in 2017. In October 2017 at Brooklyn’s A.I.R. Gallery, Laura examined the political, social, and communal impacts of quilts in her curated exhibit Beyond the Bedcovers, a group show explored how quilting has evolved beyond its cozy functionality.
Laura’s work has been published in several national and international publications. In 2015, she was interviewed by the Weather Channel for a nationally-syndicated piece linking her re-purposed art to contemporary weather concerns. Her art has been created in diverse spaces such as the 2013 Arctic Circle Residency in Svalbard, Norway. Laura has been recognized at the state and national level for her achievements, including grants from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Residency and the Clark Hulings Fund for Visual Artists. In 2017, she was awarded the New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship in Sculpture. In the summer of 2018, Laura completed a three-month residency at the Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston, Massachusetts. Most recently, in the winter of 2018, she finished a New Courtland Fellowship with the Center for Emerging Visual Artists.
Laura was born in Philadelphia and raised in Haddonfield, New Jersey. For twenty years, she has lived in Asbury Park, New Jersey. She earned her BA in Fine Arts and English Literature at Dickinson College. Laura also has an MS degree in Fashion Design from Drexel University and an MFA in Studio Arts from Moore College of Art and Design. She has taught in New Jersey public schools for fifteen years as an elementary-level art teacher. Laura now lives with her husband in Boston.