In this series, the artists working at Creative Gateways give us behind-the-scenes insight into their current works in progress, inspiration, and creative challenges. Today, we look at the inspiration and history behind two of Laura Hines’ pieces…
Silver Screen Inspiration
Resident artist Laura Hines is often inspired by themes of history. In pieces such as “Alma” and “Prayer” she captures the way of life before the age of technology. Laura searches through old photographs to inspire her illustrations, adding elements around the portraits for thematic emphasis. While “Anna May Wong” and “Louise Brooks” also embody a different time, they have another layer of influence. Laura explains that she “originally created Anna May and Louise for a ‘Nasty Women’ art show and auction. Following Trump’s election and inauguration, a whole slew of ‘Nasty Women’ themed art shows popped up. I decided to keep them and instead created a separate third piece to donate.”
Laura has a passion for film, which initially inspired her to create portraits of Anna May Wong and Louise Brooks. Anna May, a third-generation Chinese American, was an excellent actress but was often given supporting roles behind white actresses portraying Chinese characters. As the first Chinese-American movie star and an outspoken, minority woman, her presence on the silver-screen was unprecedented. Anna May Wong was a perfect choice for Laura, seeing that she was a beautiful style icon, as well as a champion for social equality.
Louise Brooks, also a brilliant actress and fashion role-model, was highly intelligent and defied authority. She ruffled many feathers in a male-dominated industry because of her free spirit and uninhibited personality, and was essentially black-listed from Hollywood in the early 30’s, despite her undeniable talent. While the mere inclusion of these women in a masculine industry was inspiring, their willingness to defy the injustices of social norms is what made them important in the equality narrative. “Anna May and Louise have come to embody the essence of strong, iconoclastic female role models, each with their own flaws and mistakes, but incredible examples of perseverance and strength of character.” In both of these projects, Laura was aiming to capture beautifully real women that made real social progress.
Grey and Gold: Medium Mash-up
While Laura often uses only pencil for her illustrations, she decided to do something different with “Anna May Wong” and “Louise Brooks.” For these portraits, Laura used gold acrylic paint alongside her usual pencil medium. She did this with a few objectives in mind. For one, “as starlets, the gold mirrors their celebrity status and firm position in the historical pantheon of great film actresses.” So in one way, the painted background works as a sort of medal for their accomplishments.
On the other hand, Laura “wanted to create a ‘Madonna’-like effect (they were both sexually liberated women in a time when Hollywood demanded a clean image for their actresses).” In surrounding the actresses with gold, Laura creates a kind of halo. This addition of a saintly crown of light pushes against their outspoken, frowned-upon nature, giving each actress both of the extremes forced upon women of Old Hollywood. It also signifies that the unpopular actions and sacrifices of these icons transcended above the material world and have given way to current standards of equality.
Full Steam Ahead
Laura Hines continues to push boundaries and create exceptional new pieces, constantly learning from her past and challenging herself in the present moment. To see more of Laura’s works or discover new artwork by our other resident artists, visit Creative Gateways Open Studios & Gallery, open Tuesday through Sunday, 10am to 5pm. Come to explore the gallery, meet the artists, and take home amazing works of art!