Mimicking the forms of nature, the dripping of liquid over sinewy surfaces that leave behind distinctly waxy, organic globules, Laura Soto designs things that - despite this description - are actually very beautiful. In the way that we might have an initial revulsion to things, like strange species of fish from the depths of the ocean, we too might feel that way with her designs. But, just like those fish that we can’t actually look away from, so too are we mesmerized by that which the artist constructs.
Weaving a spell over her audience, by a neat trick of provoking a childlike curiosity within us, Soto aims to explore organic shapes that she finds whilst exploring nature. Thematically, this sense of exploration permeates her works. Whilst they’re clearly manufactured and not naturally occurring, the bits and pieces - from tables, to chairs and other sculptural works - that she makes seem only partly in her control.
The rest, given the unpredictable nature of the materials used, seem to contain within them a sense of precarity - that most fertile place that resides on the precipice between chaos and order. Looking through her body-of-work is like a hallucinogen-fuelled stroll along the coast. Both shells and mossy dew drops are represented, but in more vivid colours, their shapes accentuated to an almost grotesque degree.
Sensory and physical experiences are important to the artist, who is inspired by nature as an observer, but also as a participator - taking solace in the value of touch. Combining both flora and fauna, chemical and biological forms amount to fleshy lumps over chairs, as if it was actually one giant candle that has left its waxy remains over the now-hidden skeleton of the furniture.
Soto’s process is reminiscent of the cycles of nature. Perpetual loops of destruction and construction are embodied in the trial-and-error nature of her works, where imperfections manifest accidentally as they would appear in the natural world. These aren’t things shied away from, but embraced by the Los Angeles artist - so long as they feel right. That’s to say, these aren’t hastily put together, but mistakes are not gamebreakers either. If something doesn’t feel right, then it’s worked over and the piece continues its process of evolution.
We could consider these pieces to be living, in the sense that they move with the artist’s own feelings and sensibilities, a part of a shifting personal ecosystem that prizes the adaptability of form. Here, Soto herself becomes Mother Nature, an omniscient force guiding the patterns of her works to become something other than themselves. In her creations, therefore, we see reflections of the artist, but only so much. That is the part we can consider ‘order’. However, it is in the space she gives to chaos that Soto’s sculptural works really come alive.
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