Laura Thompson is an American mixed media and collage artist based in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Her contemporary and surrealist work combines meticulously cut imagery from vintage magazines with abstract and representational painting to create dream-like and amusing compositions.
Growing up on the fringe of a wealthy suburb of Rochester, NY, she was exposed to levels of privilege and hypocrisy that she found objectionable. From early on she honed the coping skills of humor and sarcasm. However, it wasn’t until after years of teaching art to middle schoolers that she began incorporating these themes into her own work.
She left upstate NY in 1998 to attend James Madison University, where she earned her BFA in Graphic Design and MA in Art Education. She began showing her stained and fused glass art in 2004, but returned to drawing and painting after her daughter was born in 2008. She worked with graphite and watercolor, then leaned heavily into oil painting for several years, at which point her characteristic tone of humor emerged. After a pandemic-induced painting hiatus, she discovered her signature mixed media collage style, which debuted in January 2021.
Since living in Virginia, Laura has participated in more than 20 exhibitions statewide, as well as showing work in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Washington, D.C. She has won several awards for her “Little Worlds” series, including First Place in 2D Mixed Media at the 2023 Fall Foliage Festival in Waynesboro, VA, and Second Place in 2D Media at Crossroads Art Center in Richmond, VA in March 2023. In addition, the Arts Council of the Valley awarded her the 2023 Public Art Forward Grant to complete a 1000 sqft mural in downtown Harrisonburg, VA.
My mixed-media collage artworks feature meticulously cut vintage magazine images placed on painted backgrounds, both abstract and figurative. These elements combine to create humorous and surrealistic “little worlds.”
I approach the blank canvas with tenacity and wonder using an experimental and process-oriented method. Ridding myself of expectations first, I begin building loose background layers of paint and then add structure with lines, shapes, or objects, before pulling from a cataloged library of images that I have scoured vintage magazines to find. Arranging and rearranging different objects and characters, I play with the composition until a sense of tension, humor, or absurdity emerges.
The goal is to draw the viewer in closer, provoke wonder, and invite them into the joke. I strive to provide a fresh and amusing perspective on themes such as the relationships between people, our relationships with animals and the planet, social justice issues, inclusion, and feminism.