Laurie Wessman LeBreton
I grew up in a household full of wonderful woodcraft made by my father, who never considered himself an artist. I continued in his tradition, making art happily, but very casually. I made mixed media sculptures, incorporating wooden blocks, plastic figures, popsicle sticks, beads and various other offbeat items. While this was long before I knew what an artist’s statement was, I was already working to understand something in my life: loss, the need for protection, the need for community. Like my father, I didn’t consider myself an artist, partly because I was raising a family and working in the nonprofit community on social justice issues at the same time. In my 40s I was introduced to artists’ books through my work, and I took my first art classes since elementary school. I loved them, and eventually I took a two-week workshop in book binding at the Penland School of Crafts. At Penland I saw that I was much more serious about art than I had realized, that I was in fact an artist. When I was close to retirement I began graduate school in the book and paper arts at Columbia College in Chicago. I got my MFA in 2010. I’ve been making and showing my “new” art since then. My years making art without formal training allowed me to work unselfconsciously. I developed a rather whimsical style and point of view while confronting serious subjects. During graduate school I learned to articulate this point of view more coherently. Most important, I found a medium I love, paper sculpture.I’ve exhibited widely in the Chicago area, across the country and internationally. I had two solo shows in 2018 at the Robert DeCaprio Gallery at Moraine Valley Community College and at the Lee E. Dulgar Gallery at South Suburban College. In 2019 I had a two-person show at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois and a three-person show at the Evanston Art Center, Evanston, Illinois.