We had the good fortune of connecting with Laela White and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laela, what inspires you?
I draw inspiration from anything and everything. I’m hyper-aware of my existence and I’m particularly observant of things around me. The mundane and everyday specifically inspire my sculpture work, taking something that maybe gets overlooked or is so commonplace, and then spinning it into something worthy of having an art piece made of it. On a grander scale, outside of my art practice, I get inspired by my loved ones, nature, comedians, food, vintage fashion, thoughtful design, good packaging, and other artists.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m an interdisciplinary artist who is interested in the marriage of humor and fine art. I go through phases of what holds my interest but ultimately it all comes back to the human body in some way. I guess I’m still fascinated with the fact that we’re all in meat suits and we’re all aware of it. I graduated from Otis College of Art and Design with a BFA in May 2020 (woohoo, Covid graduate!). I currently work as an art teacher at a private art studio for children in the South Bay. Nothing that’s worth it is easy and my career/ where I am professionally is no different. Realizing I wanted to be an artist as a teenager wasn’t immediately understood or celebrated but that road of twists and turns led me to where I’m at. Graduating during a pandemic certainly wasn’t part of that plan and has complicated what my goals are and how my art practice operates now but that’s just how life works, right? I want the world to know I try to live as honestly and thoughtfully as possible, and I feel like that also manifests in my art practice. I make things I want to see exist in the world, I want to spark conversation about the human condition, I want to make people laugh, and I want people to not feel so alone.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This is a hard one! I’m an LA native (from the SFV, now living in Inglewood) so I feel like there’s so much to do/and see! I’ll break it down by category: Eat: Must try’s are Pho Daily in Gardena (my literal FAVORITE place to eat ever), Lomeli’s in Gardena, Humble Potato, Monty’s in Echo Park (plant based, dog friendly, and super retro vibe? Sign me up!), Earl’s on Crenshaw in Leimert Park (the BEST chilli cheese fries I’ve ever had in my life, and they also have plant based options!), Saje Bistro in Culver City, Beeps in Van Nuys, Rabano’s in Manhattan Beach, and C&O’s in Venice (they have bottomless garlic knots made in house by scratch!). Drink: For coffee/non-alcoholic drinks — Verve in West Hollywood, The Conservatory in Culver City, and Cafe 70’s in Culver City. For alcohol– Backstage in Culver City, the Garage in Culver City, Q’s Billiards in Brentwood, and the Library Bar in DTLA. Visit: I like museums! So I would probably suggest either LACMA, the CA Science Center, the La Brea Tar Pits, Museum of Jurassic Technology, and the Huntington Gardens. I also think going to see Balboa Lake in the valley is a must — not because it’s necessarily remarkable, but because I spent so much of my time there when I was growing up and in high school that it’s kind of important in a way. The beach is also a must, so I’d probably suggest a drive up PCH. As a nightcap, the Short Stop right by Dodger Stadium has good drinks and a great rotation of DJs and a cute dance floor. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to shoutout my partner Ivan for always supporting me, helping me realize and accomplish my goals, for loving me endlessly, and for being in my corner. I’d like to thank my family for being supportive and loving, as well as giving me just the right amount of cynicism to be funny. I’d also like to thank my mentors and professors from my undergraduate program — Soo Kim, Gershom Spruijt, Michelle Andrade, Larry Johnson, Joshua Holzmann, and Ingrid Calame to name a few. Without your support, guidance, suggestions, critiques, and conversations, I wouldn’t have made it through the program.
Hot cheetos and sardines photographed by Schuyler Hazard.