laurie elizabeth talbot hall
iowa city, iowa | interviewed 3-29-2002
"That Which Sustains Me"
mixed media construction
mixed media construction
(click images for larger view)
both copyright © 2001 Laurie Elizabeth Talbot Hall | All Rights Reserved
I was in the kitchen brewing coffee, and my daughter phoned from Spokane to ask me if my brother, who lives in Manhattan, were all right. And I'm like, What? It was a total shock to meunbelievable. And I hadn't seen any news coverage of it at all, so I jumped to the conclusion that we were under attack, in fact. And my first thoughts were, This is it; this is the collapse of Western Civilization, and it's over.
I called New York to see if I could reach my brother, and of course, I couldn't because all of the phone lines were occupied or nonfunctional. And I began to think, What haven't I done that I want to do before I die? Because I just immediately thought, there's a very limited amount of time left. And then I got dressed and went to work.
I have an 83-year-old friend, Ida Carson, who was one of the first women to get an art degree from the University of Iowa. She modeled for Grant Wood, she's been around a long time and she's put things into perspective for me. Having lived through two world wars and more, she was not as sure that it was the end of the world. These things happen; it will happen again; it's happened before.
It was another Ida moment that being so angry about the senselessness of that sort of attack, and the pointlessness and the sort of wild west mentality, you know, we'll show them. And the feeling of powerlessnesswhat can you do about it? So I had to turn to Ida again to try to put things into perspective. But it was like, a piece I made called Rootin' Tootin' Penis; the wallpaper was a penis wearing a cowboy hat, and that's sort of what this president is like. There's no thought, it's all bravado . [Tucker, the dog, barks]
This country is embarrassing me. I am humiliated by the acts of our fearless leaders. Like Ashcroft putting the draperies over classical sculptures. We're the laughing stock of the civilized world. I feel that the country is in the grips of a few corporate multi-millionaires and that so much goes on behind the scenes for the wrong reasons, that it's ludicrous to think of it as a democracy. It gets harder and harder to agree with the decisions that are being made. And it has nothing to do with the American spirit, I mean, it has to do with greed and deceit.
I think that the place of art is to help us on a daily basis to appreciate the fact that the world, that the universe, does not function according to reason or human design. Art can help us see or imagine or think about the mystery of things that surround us. It can play with boundaries between reality and unreality. I'm more interested in working to keep art alive as an alternative way of interacting with reality that isn't market-based. Art is something that we can all have and enjoy and grasp and find beauty and comfort and solace in.
Laurie Elizabeth Talbot Hall was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa in 1955, and grew up there as well. She was the youngest of six children.
She received her B.A. from Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin, and received master's and doctorate psychology degrees from the University of Iowa, Iowa City. She also earned her M.A. in art and M.F.A. in photography from the University of Iowa.
In addition to her practice as a psychotherapist, her artwork has encompassed photography, photosilkscreen, and installation. Currently, she has been doing small box art pieces, mixed media pieces, and assemblage.
She lives in Iowa City and has two daughters.
Events such as September 11, 2001 have the power to throw existence into sharp focus. When our precariously balanced systems of daily preoccupations topple, we become more willing to consider the aspects of life that are really important to us. At a time when what we have taken for granted as secure is lost to us, where do we turn for comfort? Human nature is an unreliable source, for we see that the species that heroically responded to the disaster is the same that brought it about.
There are few things in this world as we know it that can be relied upon unequivocally. One may trust even as the sun is setting that it will rise again. One knows with certainty that the phases of the moon will wax and wane reliably in the night sky. One may look forward to the earth's path bringing us the solstices and the equinoxes in marvelous celebration year after year. These events are mysterious and their occurrence does not depend on reason. They have never once disappointed me or shaken my faith. I rely for comfort on my convivial, affectionate and appreciative relationship with these events which sustain me.