Precious Substance – Episode 5 – Laura Tyler, I Want There to Be a Feeling
Laura Tyler, I Want There to Be a Feeling
Hayley and Wendy interview Laura Tyler about the non representational color in her Yount Mill paintings. Laura describes about the squirrelly nature of working from historical sources.
Producer: Laura Tyler
Concept: Wendy Clough, Laura Tyler and Hayley Williams
Editor: Andy Schwarz
Logo Design: Hayley Williams
Creek sounds recorded at Black Cloud Creek, Mt. Elbert, Colorado
Laura, could you give us a little overview of the work you’re proposing?
The thing that brought me to this project is feeling a fascination with the light in my studio and then having this experience of watching the sunset behind the canyon but seeing it in shadows on the wall. And there’s this one photo that I found really, really striking. The mill existed before Ella Yount bought it with her husband. And I believe it changed, and burned down, even after she owned it. And in this one particular photo, you can see the sunlight on the front face of the building and then you can see, I think it’s the west side of the building that’s kind of shaded or shadowed, and there’s something about the quality of the light in this photograph that feels very present to me and then I start thinking about old photos and the past and when you’re looking at B&W it can feel really removed. Prior to doing this project I have been working with colors that I don’t like and there’s one color combination in particular that is very interesting to me. It’s ultramarine blue and cobalt blue. So, I’m taking this image. this photograph of the mill, and I’m painting it using ultramarine and cobalt together. And instead of using black and white to create shadow and highlights, I’m just using the pigments themselves. So the lighter colors are cobalt the darker colors are ultramarine it’s a very exciting way, it gets me excited to work like this with color.
How does presenting the building in colors that don’t relate to the way it actually looks what kinds of questions do you feel like that poses or answers for you.
I’m not sure I know at this point except that this quote that we’ve shared and talked about has so many different levels of judgment in it. The reason that I have for working with colors that I don’t like, it’s about challenging my own taste and judgment. When I work this way, that’s what I’m doing. I’m trying to remove judgment from art making. This hasn’t been easy. So, what I’m trying to do is come up with rules, you know, looking at the image looking at the photo making models, photographing those models, working with different colors trying to understand. What are the rules that I can give myself so that I can make these 2d images that are just pure joy to make? And then still have them also feel relevant to the viewer at the same time?
We keep referring to the building as the mill like there’s been this one mill. And although it may be in the same location, you alluded to it burning down, and I know it had also flooded. Will any of these points in time for the mill itself play a part in your works?
I think so because I’m looking at all the images of the old mill that I can find and they’re not always dated, so you don’t always know exactly what year the picture was taken that you’re looking at. Something that’s fascinating is how kind of squirrel-y or vague the information is. You can read one story and it tells the story one way. And you can look at another piece of the history, it tells it another way. So really what you’re doing is just trying to understand what is the real story, what is the real story? So, all these images of the mill, they’re from the same location, and they share a lot of similarities, and I’m really just responding to the ones that are interesting visually that have to do with the light.
Would you call the light the precious substance?
I would. Yes.
I was just thinking probably inside the building it was probably really dark
It sounds like it was a hard life. There’s this other piece of the story that you guys have alluded to. So, Ella Yount and her husband, they owned a little bank in Fort Collins. And then they bought the mill together. And it was almost immediately after they purchased the mill, they were at the train station, there was a train that went from Boulder to Denver. And I think he was trying to board the train, fell under, and his body was severed in half by the train. This is an absolutely horrid, gory story and Mrs Yount witnessed the whole thing. This happened in front of her. Imagine what this must have felt like, to be in this frontier town, to have come so far away from the place where you were raised and then to be faced with a decision, what do you do? We don’t know anything about her relationship and their partnership and somehow she made the decision to just keep moving forward, one foot in front of the other, and ended up becoming such an important person in the history of Boulder
Would it be important to you that the audience of your art recognize the building as the mill?
I think the most important thing to me when I make art is I want there to be a feeling. I want there to be a feeling. So, the feeling that I have when I look at the object that I made is the feeling that I hope other people have when they look at it.