To read Part 1 of To Be An Artist – Laura Engelhardt, click here: https://indiegirlblogs.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/to-be-an-artist-laura-engelhardt/
Written By: Laura Engelhardt
My college years at Washburn University found me with a full schedule of Fine Arts courses in pursuit of my BFA. I continued happily working with AlBo Glass and became apprenticed to a local Stained Glass artist at “Creations Unique”, Tamra Yancey. Tamra introduced me to fused glass (my current medium of choice), and my collection of mediums continued to grow. At Washburn, I was continually inspired, pushed, and supported by a collection of amazing artists and friends who happened to be my professors. One particularly strong influence was Ed Navone, who helped me grasp the complexities of capturing the movement of the human form, while altering & improving my entire understanding of oil painting.
“Currently my life is an evolving work of art.”
In 2007, I graduated from Washburn University with honors and a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts, with emphases in oil painting and stained glass. My home business in custom-stained glass and fused glass jewelry had been booming for several years at this point, and I was participating in art and craft shows and the local farmers market almost every weekend. Much to my delight, I was honored with the Pollock award near the end of my time at Washburn, with the Mulvane Art Museum purchasing one of my oil paintings for their permanent collection.
While my painting and stained glass activities ebbed in the years after graduation and the blank canvases began to pile up, my fused glass jewelry business continued to grow and create new connections with new artists and art show visitors all over the state. When the economy went south and shows were no longer as affordable to pursue, my jewelry found its way into the (then new) NOTO Arts District (NOTO comes from the first two letters of NOrth TOpeka). Already a huge fan of the First Friday Art walks that brought a huge variety of art to Topeka, I was thrilled when the NOTO concept was mentioned. I remember joining other excited artists and art patrons on the very first tours of the derelict buildings on North Kansas Avenue and delighted in the idea of the arts district and community that was being proposed. As I watched NOTO grow, my excitement grew with it. Artist friends, with whom I had connected in earlier years, began opening their own studios and galleries, and people started taking notice of the renovations happening just north of the river. My jewelry moved around from gallery to lovely little gallery in the NOTO area, usually just a first Friday showing or two in the same place. I was just happy to have my creations on display and to be involved in the growing community. Eventually, my jewelry, as well as paintings from my college years, found a home in the Yeldarb Gallery. As my connections in NOTO grew, I was asked to teach a few art classes for the NOTO Art Center and quickly agreed. I wanted very much to be a part of the ever growing art movement in Topeka.
” I may have a “real” job again someday, but for now, Art, all the time, Art. I’m happier than I can remember and only wish there were more hours in the day to create.”
Currently, life finds me painting large scale murals at Washburn Institute of Technology, as well as working part-time at AlBo Glass and occasionally at Creations Unique. I am also teaching and planning new classes for the NOTO Art Center and loving every minute of it. At home, I create unique wearable works of art using fusible glass, recycled hand-blown glass, anodized aluminum, resin, patience and whatever new mediums happen to drift my way. All of my ever more bizarre creations find their way to the Yeldarb for show. I sketch ideas. I explore new mediums. I contemplate the stack of blank canvas that sits in my studio and plan (for the first time in years) new oil paintings and portraits for creation in the near future.
For years, I truly believed that if art was my full-time employment, I wouldn’t want to do it, that it would taint the creativity that I had loved and clung to for so many years (up until 2012 I’ve always had a “real” full-time job, while creating art on the side). I have never been so happy to be proven wrong. I may have a “real” job again someday, but for now, Art, all the time, Art. I’m happier than I can remember and only wish there were more hours in the day to create.
Make Sure to check out Laura’s Website to view all her amazing work including her jewelry:
Ebb & Flow Arts: http://ebbflowarts.com
For a list of courses Laura will be teaching click here! http://notoartsdistrict.com/category/adult-classes/
Her Art Work Can Be Viewed And Purchased At The Following:
909 North Topeka Avenue,
Topeka, Kanasas 66608
*The large scale mural project at Washburn Tech is only two months away from completion and will be included as a stop on the First Friday Art Walk in May, with the culinary arts students providing snacks and treats. The building (Main building A, along the west wing) is open during regular business hours and anyone is welcome to stop by and see the progress.*