Endlessly inspired by nature, Laura Gurton’s work often contains painted elements that are reminiscent of life on a molecular level. Her biomorphic forms recall living organisms which seem to frenetically multiply across the canvas in layered arrays. The fluid and organic patterns she creates are achieved by the unpredictable reactions of oil paint, resin and glazes that she steadily combines over time. In this way her work is as much about the concept of chance as it is about exploring nature reduced to its most microscopic, primary forms which she has titled the “Unknown Species”. The resulting compositions are composed of multiple layers of translucent glazes, imparting levels of depth. With the addition of each layer, these forms begin to overlap and like the rings in a tree evoke a passage of time. The varied sizes of her Unknown Species can also remind the viewer of our life spans from infancy to full size adults over time and can be seen as families.
       When asked about her influences, Laura Gurton said, “The shapes that I create consist of concentric circular lines and colors that mimic pieces of agate, rings inside of trees, mold, and other patterns in nature. The philosopher, Roger Caillois, began to theorize in the 1940’s that nature was not just utilitarian as Darwin had argued but was important also for aesthetics. This “diagonal science” as Caillois called it, prompted him to write Pierres (Stones) and
L’Ecriture des pierres, (The writing of stones), in which he rhapsodizes over the patterning of stones. Caillois believed that stones were examples of a cryptic “universal syntax”, a unifying aesthetic lanquage. I am struck by the coincidence that I also used to incorporate my own stones, slices of agate, into the art I made with glass years ago. I agree with Caillois’s belief that there is a universal syntax, and I want my paintings to be examples of that language. I saw Caillois’s stones collection at the 55th Venice Biennale and found them beautiful and linteresting that they were presented as art just as they were.
       I also have been influenced by my research on childbirth and infants. I once read that when a baby is born, he or she will be attracted to the shape of a target or concentric circles, because of the instinctual need for the mother’s breast and survival. I don’t know if this has ever been proven, but the idea that humans might be drawn to shapes by their instincts fascinates me. After reading about that instinctual attraction, I started creating art with concentric circles, at first with collage and then with paint. I have painted landscapes, portraits, still lives, and worked with ornament and design, but have always come back to the simplicity and power of the concentric circles. Whether I am drawn to repeating these shapes instinctually or from the desire to be part of what Caillois describes as a
universal syntax, I continue to find the exploration of both satisfying and challenging.
     Photographs of Gurton’s Unknown Species paintings provide her with a way to connect to the symmetry found in the mathematical patterns of snowflakes, flowers and plants as well as the detailed patterns found in the microscopic world. When she works on the photographs changing the composition of he paintings to be symmetrical she develops interesting patterns. Some are patterns made from using a photograph of one whole painting and sometimes just a section of one or two of her paintings are used. Her title for this work is Bits and Pieces. She prints them on canvas and uses crystals, to emphasize the patterns that developed. The biomorphic shapes of the Unknown Species may look smaller and different but the Unknown Species is what makes up the Bits and Pieces as well as Gurton’s videos that she also animates and puts to music.
The cellular shapes in all of Gurton’s paintings, mixed media works and videos, echoing naturally occurring shapes, provide the rhythms of life and existence.