We had the good fortune of connecting with Lorah Stone and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lorah, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
My art practice has always been a part of my life. But due to moving around the country several times earlier in my adulthood, and going through big life changes once I landed in California, it was hard to keep a flourishing and consistent practice. Five years ago when I moved from Santa Barbara County to Los Angeles, I decided I wanted to start showing up in the studio as consistently as I could. I would make whatever I felt like making. I would be willing to start over and learn old processes agin or take the time to learn new processes. I would be willing to be frustrated and problem solve, and be a beginner again if I needed to be to move forward. Making good art takes time. Making good art takes consistently showing up. When you have to work a full time job outside of the home, or when you have a family, growing your art practice can be very challenging. I first just worked in my living room. I worked a day or two a week. Then I made a tiny studio in a mudroom in the back of my cottage. I started growing my practice and the amount of work and different disciplines and skills much more rapidly. This past year, I emptied and then quickly built out a large, old metal shed in my yard. I have room for a drawing desk, printmaking table, a wall to make medium to large works, and am in the process of making a weaving area. Now, even when I have a busy work schedule, I show up for myself, for my practice. I show up almost every day now. I might not always be able to to be there very long. I know I might not always have as much time as I do right now, as I have had during this season we have all been mostly at home for the past year. But my practice is now a huge part of who I am. No matter where I live, or what is going on in my life, I cannot not create. I always want more time and resources for my work, but real growth and magic happen when you work within your restraints.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Taking the time and really looking at the world is something we lose in adulthood. We seem to know how to look, how to ask questions, how to dream, much better when we are children. Really seeing and asking questions, being willing to try wild ideas, and dream unthinkable things, that’s what brings true growth and healing and good art and invention onto this world. Paying attention to things, when it’s easy and when it’s hard. I had a friend say to me during a particularly hard period, pay attention. Right now your feet are in the air and your head is on the ground and it won’t always be that way. As hard as it might be to pay attention and then make things from what you see, you should be doing it” During the most difficult periods of my life, during many moves and rebuilding of my life, my community and career, during a heartbreaking divorce, during a period of poverty and unknown, I figured out ways to make art and explore the world around me and inside of me. If I didn’t have a consistent place to live, I made contemporary movement videos in the places I was staying to the songs I was listening to, I printed textiles in the sun on a folding table outside. I made things I could travel with, or repurpose into something else later. Now that I have put down roots, I take longer to make larger, wilder, stranger things. Collaged mixed media drawings that are portals into the ancient world, large macrame weavings that seem to breathe as beings on their own, I print much of the clothing that I wear and my community wear my designs too. Showing up in the studio in any way I can saved me, and helped me move forward in my life and in my creative practice. Being consistent in that way is the key. And it’s the looking that changes everything. If you really know how to look on both the inside and the world around you, you can’t help but want to explore and create. For as long as I can remember I have loved ancient cultures, clothing, pattern, color and expressions of art. In present and past, in ancient cultures, religions and throughout human existence, people have tried to solve problems, envision new worlds, connect time and space, or state they are were just actually there. You see it in the Caves at Lascaux, read it in myths and archetypes throughout the world, in the story of the famous Tower of Babel, you see it in pottery throughout different times and cultures and at the thoughtful construction of ancient ruins. You see it in the kinetic marks of the abstract expressionists, the color field worlds created by Helen Frankenthaler and the colorful Quilts of Gee’s Bend. You experience it through shamanistic spoken poetry at a Patti Smith concert, in the narratives in the Hunt of the Unicorn tapestries from the Middle Ages. I would encourage anyone to show up for themselves and for the potential new ideas they could bring into the world by just creating. Regularly. When you feel like it and when you don’t. Just make things, and you will be amazed at what comes out of you and how you are changed for the better in the process.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Oh man! This is a really tough question! LA has SO much to offer. Typically, my favorite things to do in and around the city are inexpensive and full of culture and nature…and there are so many choices! If we were going to have a beach day, I would start it at El Matador State Beach in Malibu. I would eat dinner at the Reel Inn on the 1, and then take a bike ride to the Venice boardwalk and see all the wild street vendors, performers, skateboarders and alternative culture. If you hadn’t hit up Reel Inn for amazing seafood, I would go to Gjusta for food any time of day! Their salads, flatbreads, meats, pastries, drinks…it’s all delicious! I love taking visitors to the Getty Museum. Their in-house food is great and you can spend an entire day looking at art and laying on a blanket in their gardens. Thein Hau Buddist Temple in Chinatown is a mystical and magical stop, you are immersed in incense soaked air and vibrant red colors of different Buddhist statues and of course you can get great Chinese food at the Golden Dragon Restaurant and stop by the Last Bookstore in downtown. I love Oriel Wine bar in Chinatown as well. Beautiful galleries like Blum & Poe and Hauser Wirth are honestly like museums themselves, and always have top notch shows, but one of my favorite galleries is The Pit in Glendale, it’s a block from my house, and they have amazing programming and are awesome people. Mini Kabob is a great take out spot for Armenian food in Glendale and you can get baklava at the Baklava factory and take a hike at Brand Park, which is one of the most beautiful city parks in all of Los Angeles. One of my favorite days in Los Angeles is to spend the afternoon at Huntington Gardens, meandering among the different worlds of plants and early American art (It’s a true gift and wonder to this city) and then have dinner at Union Pasadena, where they make everything in house, pasta noodles, butchering, butter, I mean EVERYTHING. I could keep going, the list is endless! Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people and artists who had inspired and/or supported me along the way. Growing up watching my dad take the miniscule amount of time he had after working a full time job, having a family and maintaining an old farm house and small plot of land we had in rural Indiana, continue to write and publish poetry. It really made a mark on my life. He found the time to write while he was traveling for work around the country, in the wee hours of the morning, even disappearing and writing a poem during my sixteenth birthday party. Whenever he could, he showed up. Reading and looking at the works of Annie Dillard, Patti Smith, Frida Kahlo, Joan Didion, and Lee Krasner from my youth until now, and studying how they each worked over the course of their life. Making rock ‘n’ roll into her seventies like Patti, continually reinventing herself despite every obstacle like Frida, being wild and creative, some being mothers and all experiencing heavy losses during their lifetimes. All of these women continually showed up for their art and their practice and beliefs. There wasn’t another option. This kind of dedication and vision is what keeps me inspired to keep going.
Dakota Lee Stroud / Jon Paul Jones / most taken by me