top of page

12 Questions: Karla Lauden

1. What are 1-3 books that have influenced your life? The Velveteen Rabbit, a book given to me by my late sister that she gave to me on my graduation (with her inscription), Love Letters from my husband, and my Grandpa Hilmer Halverson's Norwegian Hymnal  (leather bound, name scripted, and written in Norwegian). 

2. What are you currently working on?  My work, of most recent pertains to what I like to call the "sublime-banal".  Painting and drawing images from the past few years: a set of sponges, lint, my husband's broken down sneakers, a person floating in a pool, a gin bottle, Grandma Sam's charm bracelet, Paulie sleeping, self-portrait with shingles. Quiet items that are heavy handed; imagers loaded with trauma, PTSD, and suffering.

3. How has failure set you up for later success? What was your favorite failure? Failure is my muse. I wouldn't be anywhere without failure in my life or work. Frequently, I use failed art pieces, unintentional drips/marks, as part of the work, it informs it in an another way that I would have never planned. My favorite failure was the ramifications of not taking care of my health, which changed my life forever. After surviving a life threatening autoimmune disease, I have become a different person. My health, outlook, body, mindset and art has completely transformed in a completely unexpected and beautiful way. I would never trade this gorgeous failure for anything.

4. What is your most unusual habit?

I'm a compulsive "arranger-of-furnture". I love up-cycling what I have, moving things around to give it a fresh spin. Ever since, I was a little girl I would compulsively move around my bedroom furniture (and check out bathrooms of restaurants we would visit, I know weird), so I guess, some things never change. I LOVE looking at realty and am a fan of the old show FreesStyle on HGTV. I love using what you have and repurposing it. Yes, I'm a closeted stager. :)

5. If you could have any painter, living or dead paint your portrait who would it be and why?  Eva Hesse. I would have loved to have met her, since I feel that we have a lot in common. She suffered from anxiety and self-doubt as an artist and sadly her amazing career ended way to early because of her health. She was so on top of her game when she got her diagnosis. Her cerebral, organic, intuitive, dark and mysterious nature of her work has always gotten under my skin. She was ahead of her time. 6. What is the most indispensable item in your studio/workspace/office? What is your studio like? Could you share an image?

Pictures of my Dad when he was a little kid, a metal horseshoe, metal filing cabinets that I got for an amazing score, my mother's paper houses from the 40's, display of my old paint palettes, a print of fishing village in Norway I got thrifting, a MCM rocking chair and table (I found thrifting, too), my beautiful studio with 18ft tall tack wall and views of the river, and my broken down paintbrushes. 

7. When you feel overwhelmed or uninspired what do you do? What do you do to get out of a funk? What questions do you ask yourself?

First, I don't go into the studio. I've always had a good gauge to know when it's time to spend making or not doing. When in graduate school I was ill advised by one of my professors who said I should be in the studio everyday in order to be a serious artist, and that never resonated with me. I can't force myself to make art. I have to be inspired. So taking a break from the practice, doesn't mean I'm not paying attention. When filling the creative well I'll garden, talk to my plants or my cats (Dots and Blu), hang with hubby, go for a walk, thrift, or like I said prior, rearrange furniture. I always call myself an archeologist during this time; I'm recording, taking notes, and documenting ideas away from making marks....I call it my "archeological dig". 

8. Who/What influences your work?

Life, in a nutshell. The past two years has been about documenting my brush with death. 

9. Do you collect anything?

Plants, plants and more plants, and I would collect cats, too, but that could be dangerous. So plants are a safer bet  ;)

10.  What words of advice would you give to your younger self? Believe in yourself, be patient, don't worry what other people think (or the small things in life) and most importantly do work for yourself, first, because the number of shows you get into doesn't mean you are necessarily the greatest artist that ever lived.   11.  In the last five years what new belief, or habit has most improved your life or studio practice?  That I am worthy.  12.  Share an inspiring image.(see below...Paulie and Cat, Blu)

Karla's work will be available on ARTSY and on view at James May Gallery as a part of the exhibition: Tension in the Ordinary | Winter Invitational.

Exhibition dates: Feb 8 - April 11 2020

James May Gallery

219 State Street

Algoma, WI 54201


Thursday- Saturday 10-5


(Call ahead)


bottom of page