In last week’s edition we ran an image of Laura Tyagi’s labyrinth from a series of work she calls “Earthwalk.” Along with the image was a description detailing what the viewer was actually seeing, and I was so intrigued I asked Tyagi for an interview.
Tyagi was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, but raised in Texarkana. After teaching elementary school art for 11 years, Tyagi is now devoting all her attention to being a full-time artist and shares studio #305 at Silver Street with jewelry artist and metalsmith Jen Lam Parmer.
I’ve actually known Parmer longer, and only just met Tyagi when the friends started sharing studio space the past few years. Both artists have upbeat personalities, but together they have an infectious persona and so I love dropping in on them during events, where you can always find Tyagi, too, by the way.
Tyagi tells me she was always creative, but only by chance was she introduced to the art world.
“I needed an extra elective and our school had just hired a new art teacher,” she said. “I signed up, fell in love with art and the rest is history.”
“Earthwalk” is a series of labyrinths built from “rocks” or more appropriately “transformed” journal pages.
AV: Tell me about your “Earthwalk” series and what led you to it?
LT: “I started doing a program called ‘The Artist’s Way’ a few years ago. It’s a book by Julia Cameron that helps artists, writers and creatives explore their creativity. One of the main exercises is called writing your ‘morning pages.’ So, each morning you write three pages, stream of consciousness, to help process your thoughts and get them onto paper. No editing and no judgments. After doing this for quite a while, I accumulated a lot of morning pages. And those aren’t the kinds of things most people feel comfortable having just lying around!”
Then Tyagi’s epiphany came!
“It all came together for me one day while on an artists’ retreat in New Mexico. It was kind of a magic moment,” she said. “I woke up early, wrote my pages and then walked the labyrinth at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, and all of the sudden I sensed the connection between what was happening in my morning pages and in my life, how I was changing as I embarked on a new career path and walking the labyrinth. It was a really spiritual experience, and I realized I had to do something about it.
“So, I decided to transform all my old thoughts physically as a representation of how the processes of writing, meditation and labyrinth walking transform us inwardly, spiritually and energetically. It’s all about transformation. From the writing to the processing, to the physical shredding and transforming of paper into clay, then hand-building and tinting each rock, arranging them into different labyrinth designs and then finally ‘walking’ the labyrinths visually. I’m in love with the whole process!”
AV: Are people asking for commissions?
LT: “Absolutely! I have just begun doing some commissions for people using letters they’ve written, special intentions
and even children’s end-of-the-year school papers and drawings. It’s a really special way to preserve those things and as a former teacher, I can tell you … they bring a lot home you just can’t possibly keep.
“Being able to help others transform things that are so precious and personal into something beautiful and meaningful is such a gift. I know the power the process holds for me and welcome the opportunity to give that to someone else.”
I jokingly suggested Tyagi’s art medium might be rock, paper, scissors. She corrected me by saying, “More like paper, rocks, glitter!” She said while assuring me that when she does use glitter, it’s plant-based and biodegradable. I stand corrected!
Tyagi is always open the second Saturday of every month and special events throughout the year. You can also visit by appointment. Check out lauratyagi.com.
Cohen is an artist and founder of First Saturday Arts Market and The Market at Sawyer Yards, find him at ArtValet.com.