Featured Artist: Laura Petrovich-Cheney

Four Shore
Four Shore

Age: 45

Hometown: I grew up in Haddonfield, NJ, and now currently reside in Asbury Park, NJ

Job description: Artist & Art Teacher

What are you working on/ describe your work. 

I love walking in the city, in the parks and woods and along the beach. There, I find and resurrect debris and give it a new purpose. For example, after a winter storm in 2010, I found two wooden crabbing boats that had washed up on the beach. I hauled those boats in the back of my truck, took them into the studio and cut up the wood into squares. Then I arranged the squares into abstract patterns of color and texture to make wooden quilt-like pieces of art.

Clancy's Farewell
Clancy’s Farewell

Since then, I have continued to use discarded or found wood to create abstract works. Following Hurricane Sandy, I began collecting wooden refuse from the communities that were devastated as a way to hold onto what once was. I have collected pieces of floorboards, window frames, cabinets, dressers, exterior siding, doors and paneling. I will use this salvaged wood to create abstract pieces of art, taking my inspiration from traditional American patchwork quilt designs—designs I find familiar and comforting. Transforming this salvaged wood into something meaningful helps me restore some order and perhaps some dignity to a landscape so dotted with disorder and loss.

What’s been happening in your life/ what’s next for you? 

Right now, I am pretty busy getting ready for the Solo Series Exhibit at the Abington Art Center.  The opening is February 3.  In addition, I am preparing for my fall residency in the Arctic Circle. As an artist whose media is deeply rooted in humankind’s connection to the natural environment — hollowed tree trunks, found detritus from nature — I am intrigued by the thought of traveling to the frozen tundra and discovering new media with which to interact and make connections. I am also really honored to have been selected as a 2013-2014 A.I.R. Gallery fellow. It certainly will be a busy 18 months- but I love it!

Any exhibits coming up/ any past exhibits you’d like to mention? 

This past fall, my work was exhibited at the Delaware Art Museum along side one of my favorite professors from grad school at Moore College of Art & Design– Moe Brooker. We both had work in the Centennial Juried Show. I felt so proud and honored to have been included in this show because the caliber of work was amazing. The show marked a turning point in my level of confidence as a professional artist.


 Is your work political? Since climate change and the health of this planet are political issues, then, yes, my work is political.

Biggest challenge as an artist?

My biggest challenge is finding time to make artwork, maintaining a teaching career and making a life with my husband. In addition to being an artist, I am also an elementary art teacher. I teach students from first grade to sixth grade on  “art-on-the-cart” in a public school in Lakewood, NJ. Sometimes the demands of a teaching job can be overwhelming when I am preparing for an exhibit or working on grants.

Are you involved with any organizations/ is there a group you feel affinity with/ do you collaborate with other artists?

I am glad that you asked this question. Professional organizations are essential for artists! Everyone should join an arts organization and if  s/he can volunteer- it is even better. For me, I am affiliated with the Women’s Caucus of Art/Phila Chapter, both as a member and as the secretary. I am also a member of the Philadelphia Sculptors. Both organizations have provided me with opportunities to network, exhibit work and meet other artists, who I now consider my friends. I also belong to as many museums and local art centers as I can afford.

Grid Lock
Grid Lock

What are you listening to these days? 
Mostly, I enjoy the quiet of the studio with no music. I find music can be distracting to my imagination. In the summer, I love listening to the birds in the garden next to my studio. My fruit trees keep the birds singing regularly all summer long.

What are a few of your favorite spots in Philly: 

La Colombe on Rittenhouse Square and the PMA. The PMA was the first museum that I went to and it still feels like home.

All Trees of Wood Shout for Joy
All Trees of Wood Shout for Joy

What is your ideal job?

Working 4 days in the studio and teaching for 2 days. I would take one day off to spend it with my husband and dog.

Favorite artists and why.

Although many contemporary artists have influenced my work- Cornelia Parker, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Antony Gormley, Anges Martin and Leonardo Drew, there is one contemporary artist who has been the most influential to me, and that is Eva Hesse. Hesse’s work and thinking has inspired me to stretch my own artistic boundaries in sculpture.

People in your field whom you most admire:  Jennie Shanker – a Philadelphia artist and professor.  She taught me how to use a band saw and other cool power tools and for that, I am forever grateful. Diane Burko, another amazing Philadelphia artist. We’re going to the Arctic Circle together. Diane’s work on climate change, the environment and women’s movement is amazing!

Detail: The Birds and the Bees
Detail: The Birds and the Bees

What are you reading? I am reading Art & Today by Eleanor Heartney and Terry Tempest William’s Finding Beauty in a Broken World.

Do you buy a lot of artwork? I do. In fact, there is very little wall space left in my house. I also try to buy jewelry, handbags and clothing from other artists as well. Buying something truly unique makes me feel special. When I have time (and money), I shop at local craft exhibits and buy from artists on Esty. I really like supporting other artists and not supporting a corporation, which probably happens to own a mining company, a chemical plant, and/or a few oilrigs- not to mention the deplorable condition of the factories and the wellbeing of the employees.

Your website(s):




Barn Razing
Barn Razing

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