Artist to Know- Laura Salvatore

Artist to Know- Laura Salvatore

Laura is a Capricorn queen born and raised in Colchester, Connecticut. She currently resides in Sunnyside, Queens and works at Sotheby’s Institute of Art as a Program Coordinator. She is also currently a fellow for the Zip Code Memory Project. This April, Laura will be joining the micro-residency Poets Afloat, where she will write poems aboard the ship the Wavertree. 

Laura and I met at CCNY’s MFA Program when we were both enrolled at the same poetry workshop. I was blown away by the poems she shared in our class because they had this cool, calm, and collected tone over heavy topics and I admired that style about her. Leaving class and heading toward Queens together, we soon discovered our other shared interests outside of poetry included our love for sweet treats and collaging. While her poems bring us up close to unspoken moments past the bigger picture, her collage pieces pull dreamy colors and blend feminine, earthy elements together to create beauty from different places.

Click here to read some of Laura's original poetry! 

The following is a transcription of an interview we recorded in her living room back in June 12th, 2020.

A- So when did you start collaging? 

L- As a child I used to take my mom’s magazines and cut them up, take images I really liked, and glue them into notebooks-- I didn’t really make new images… I always had notebooks filled with stuff like that. And then in college I started doing this type of collage work. 

[She points to a hand-made collage book opened between us.]

A spread of Laura's collages. This one is called Wheat.

L- I used to do it in the evenings because it would help me zen out. Actually I remember I made this really big Christmas scene with this whole party happening, using a bunch of my mom’s magazines and this poster board that I had. I spent months on that. It was a big party-- I drew a ton of people, there were decorations…

A- What images did you use and where did you get them from?

L- My mom always had decorating magazines and we would get random catalogues in the mail so it was a lot of that kind of stuff. A lot of paper furniture. I used to really like Vogue and Vanity Fair in high school. My childhood bedroom was covered in images. 

A- I think it would be interesting to see what images you chose and why you put those images next to each other. 

L- It was a lot of clothes that I liked. It was an inspo journal. Like: These are all the things that I'm manifesting. 

This collage is called stream.

A- At what point in your life did you start looking at it differently- like it’s more than just things that look cool?

L- I think it was in college as an undergrad. I don’t remember when I started collaging more seriously but I do remember hanging at my friend’s apartment and just taking a bag of magazines and sitting there, making collages. I think my friends still have some of the ones I made during that time. 

It wasn't even just notebooks, I think I still have papers of collages scattered around. Back then I wasn’t even taking it seriously necessarily as an art form, it was more like a mindfulness or zen thing for me to do to wind down-- if that makes sense. And then in the last couple of years I’ve been like, “Yeah this is a real art form.”

I feel like working on stuff with you and Jen has made me be like, “Oh no this is a real thing. Other people do it.” It takes a lot of work and effort, you know? And everyone has different styles. One of my friends started collaging recently. He’s been sending me a lot of collage poems he’s been writing, and he says he’s been having a lot of fun doing it.

I really like collaging with people for the first time because I feel like people don’t realize how much fun and how creatively fulfilling it can be. Most of the people I’ve collaged with for the first time, they’re like, “That was so fun like wtf.”  It feels so good just to make something, and be like, "I put that shit together." It’s so cool to just play around with paper and get experimental with it. And the stakes are so low, you know? 

A- Are there any other materials you’ve tried to collage with besides paper?

L- Yeah recently I tried to use fabric a little bit but that was tough. I feel like I need better glue for that. Yeah I’ve used fabric, ribbons... oh I’ve been using sequins more because I’ve been embracing the sparkly fun aesthetic. I’ve been using a lot of gems and sequins and things and more glitter. 

A- What challenges have you faced so far as an artist? In your collage work and poetry?

L- I feel like maybe just writer’s block, which is such a basic answer… it’s not even writer’s block necessarily, it’s more like writer’s laziness. I just need to force myself to write more when I’m going through like spells of not feeling super inspired. When I’m feeling inspired I can write stuff really quickly, and then I get excited about editing. But if I’m not feeling that burst of inspiration, I just don’t really try, which is not a sustainable way to operate as a writer. 

A- I feel like I rely on school to help me get moving. 

L- It’s also hard right now in quarantine. I don’t know, I get inspired when I’m moving around and doing stuff so that’s been kinda taken away.

A- What are some of those things that would help motivate you to write?

L- I love going to poetry readings or other kinds of readings. Those always get me super inspired. Or honestly just anything where I’m learning stuff will help stir inspiration. Like sitting in other classes, going to museums, things like that. 

This collage is titled, "Lounging."

A- What are some good poetry readings that you go to, or have gone to recently?

L- I’ve heard Dorothea Lasky read a few times-- she’s such a fun presence and her poetry is really cool. So I feel like every time I’ve gone to one of her readings, I’ve left being like, “Damn I gotta write immediately!” Also I’ve seen Sharon Olds read a couple of times and that was just so amazing. I’ve loved her poetry for so long, so to see her in person reading is just such joy. It’s such a good feeling!

A- What mark would you like to make on the world with your art?

L- I would like for my art to resonate with other women, especially younger women, because when I was young, the artwork and writing I found by other women really helped me through a lot of tough times, so I would like to be able to provide that resonant feeling for someone else. 

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