objet d’art, 2015
“To and fro we leap; And chase the frothy bubbles; While the world is full of troubles; And is anxious in its sleep.” Lifted from W. B. Yeats’ 1889 poem, The Stolen Child, multi-media artist Laura Catherine Soto appropriately paired this excerpt with one of her dreamy layered sculptures on Instagram, fully capturing her work’s childlike whimsy.
Soto’s entire account is approached like a working studio space, dotted with alluring, moving clips that reveal the curious process behind her art—one that sees her piecing together small, multi-colored fragments to become an entirely new shell-like piece. Everything about her feed feels organic and consciously of this world, while still flirting with the magical potentials of another planet.
Completely entranced and incessantly double-tapping her work, we caught up with the ethereal artist to learn a bit more about her practice.
Talk me through the development of your art.
Growing up in San Diego, the coastal landscape with its textures and forms had always been integral to me. From a young age I was picking up shells, rocks and oddities I’d find along the waterline. I didn’t realize this curiosity was laying the foundation for my current aesthetic. In 2013, I graduated from Biola University with my BS in Studio Art. That proved to be a very formative time in developing what would be the groundwork for my current process. In the years since graduating, making has been the one constant in my life.
What exactly are these objects you’re creating?
The primary forms that I build are these large organic, shell-like pieces which I amass from found ephemera. The surface is then exposed to a variety of media and weathering, built up and broken down. I save all of the cuttings and fragments from these forms and this sediment is then used again in my found object sculptures or books or paintings.
How do you define your aesthetic?
My aesthetic is luminous, clumsy and mysterious. It isn’t pristine or controlled, it’s visceral and tactile.
With your work, process feels just as important as the product. Would you agree?
Process is the height of it for me—the, for lack of a better word, climax. It is when my hands are busy and I’m on edge waiting to see what alchemy is born out of the materials I have forced together. Process keeps me present, keeps me curious.
Describe to me that process.
It changes based on the materials I have on hand. Sometimes I begin with a found object [and] other times I pull from my catalogue of fragments from the shell-forms. From there I play with any variety of resins, acrylics, glues, and foams. The process comes from a playful place; I am more interested in the heady, tactile business of making than a clear concept at the end of that interaction.
Why do you think Instagram has been such a great platform for showcasing your work?
I find that Instagram allows us a moment of discovery and curiosity, not unlike my years of beach combing. We can happen upon these small moments of wonder, these fragments of, and windows into, process. I would hope that in sharing these glimpses of process that followers feel invited into my studio.
Outside of art, where do you look for inspiration?
I find what I am reading most closely inspires my making. Two books that are well worn in my library, to which I always return, are Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino and Dream Work by Mary Oliver. Currently I am reading a collection of Clarice Lispector’s short stories. A lot of my titles are collected fragments from whatever I am presently immersed in.