Pop Up Special Edition: Laura Gajewski
Shelter, God Diane & Russell by Laura Gajewski

“Something went wrong, says the empty house . . . ”

Ted Kooser

Abandoned Farmhouse

“My intent with this body of work is to provoke thoughts of these subjects as witnesses to life, surviving as aging shells wrapped around the passage of time. These drawings reflect the idea of discovering the “life” in the spaces we inhabit, even when human life has moved on. Process is a crucial, and highly evident, element of this work. The complex surfaces of these pieces are intended to parallel the weathered surfaces of the houses themselves, while allowing the viewer to glimpse fragments of the layers of time and memory that made them that way. These multi-layered drawing surfaces have been scratched, sanded, torn, peeled, erased, and reworked with various media (charcoal, graphite, spray enamel, paint thinner, collage, acetone, and ink).

The idea of the personification of abandoned homes and defining these drawings as portraits has resonated with me for decades. Privately, their personalities (born from the memories, dreams, and stories held within their construction fibers) have always been clear to me, and yet this is the first time these works have been publicly described as portraits.

Written instances of personification of houses in literature help to deepen my own experience with these houses as portraits. Some of the most influential to my work are Abandoned Farmhouse by poet Ted Kooser, Ray Bradbury’s There Will Come Soft Rains (“The house shuddered, oak bone on bone, its bared skeleton cringing. . . “), and The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. Burton’s book follows the thoughts and emotions throughout the life of a little house: “The Little House was very sad and lonely . . . she missed the field of daisies and the apple trees dancing in the moonlight.” – Laura Gajewki