Summer Fridays Winner #8: Q&A With Inspiring Art Educator Laura Petrovich-Cheney

We might be nearing the end of summer, but fear not! There’s always more great art to be found commemorating the sunny season. For this week’s Summer Fridays selection, we’ve chosen Laura Petrovich-Cheney’s abstract wood composition “Barn Razing,” a work inspired both by the scenery of her summers in New Jersey and by traditional quilt designs. The 44-year-old artist is also an educator, working to teach visual arts to elementary school students and giving lectures and workshops around the country. “All students can learn if they are inspired,” this inspiring teacher tells us.

See below for our full interview with Laura Petrovich-Cheney.

Describe the piece you submitted to Summer Fridays.

This piece is made from salvaged wood. I cut the pieces of wood into geometric shapes like rectangles and squares. Then, I arranged the pieces in patterns inspired by traditional quilt patterns. This one is loosely based on a quilt pattern called “Log Cabin Squares.” The final step is gluing all the pieces together and mounting them onto a panel.

How does the piece relate to your memories of summer?

Living in the picket-fenced community of suburbia called New Jersey, it is a tradition to go the shore for the summer. My dad, like most New Jerseyians, knew all the back roads to avoid the tourist traffic. The back roads are where the local Jersey farms are and we would always stop by their stands for fresh produce, and to see the cows and horses in their red barns. Once at the shore, we had many options to spend the day — walking on the boardwalk, swimming in the ocean, or renting a crabbing boat to fish in the bay. All the discarded wood that I use comes from the collective traditions of spending summers in New Jersey.

Describe your process.

I give value to objects that are normally ignored, stepped on, tossed aside, or washed up upon the shore as debris. Inspired by traditional quilt patterns, I use motorized saws to create new relationships between colors and textures. The work investigates how I manage life’s ambiguities.

How did you end up making art?

Jacob Lawrence once said that all children use crayons and paint, and some stop, but he did not. I feel the same way. Ideas begin on walks in the woods or along the shore with my dog. However, the real inspiration comes from making plenty of mistakes in the studio and learning from them.

How has Tumblr helped you?

As a multimedia and short-form blog, Tumblr is a great forum to post my photographic images and videos. My photographs record the life that I live as a female visual artist. I try to be true to what I am passionate about and honor those passions — the daily, mundane routines; the growing and nurturing of my plants and animals; and taking care of the little speck of earth that I call home. I don’t have illusions that my work will save the world — I am too small and insignificant. Instead, I just keep doing what I love to do and sharing it with the world on platforms like Tumblr. I am not defeated by this notion that I can’t change the world; I just keep making work, sharing it with the world, and moving on.

Each week, ARTINFO and Tumblr will select an artist to highlight from Summer Fridays. Check out the Summer Fridays Tumblr to submit your work and have a chance to be featured!