Laria Saunders’ images seek a razor’s edge between the valleys of ecstatic visual beauty and pain. The hybrid of painterly photo montages ceaselessly seek to transform themselves, to upend, transmigrate and metamorphose the acute disequilibrium of everyday existence. With a soft hypnagogic flora of relief and dreams; her color fields position themselves as healing repositories, achieved with fastidiously weighted armature and composition.
Laria’s primary body of work is a kind of blended digital collage or assemblage of bits and pieces of multi-layered images. Her portfolio also includes NFT art plus traditional and experimental photography. Her work has been purchased by Google, Microsoft, Warner Media, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Slack Technologies, Mouser Electronics, O’Hare Airport VIP suite, Woodlands Resort and Park Avenue Hotel.
Saunders’ was born in Boston and raised equally there and in New York and Los Angeles. She has lived in many places including, India, Czech Republic, Italy and Mexico and has traveled throughout Europe and Russia (arts tour). Her artistic family spans four generations on both sides and includes professional artists in painting, music, theater, dance and photography. This self-taught artist with her red tinted glasses, is often seen in the streets taking images of aging walls, organic sidewalks, dirty puddles and cracks in the road. She does these walk-abouts to collect her palette library and each piece uses 50-70 images and takes several hours to several weeks to create.
Laria has a Bachelor of Arts from University California Los Angeles (UCLA) in World Arts & Culture/Dance. Due to her varied experience in the arts, she was admitted as an alumni arts scholar (scholarships/privileges) and graduated with the highest honors. She was trained as a modern dancer and specialized in the Odissi style of Classical Indian dance (Orissa, India). She was performing across the United Staes and had done private shows for Ravi Shankar, Goldie Hawn, Shirley MacLaine and Sally Field before the chronic illness started in 1998.
Saunders is also self-taught photographer and has been recognized by Light & Composition Magazine as the “top 100 photographers of 2014.” In her Los Angeles loft studio, Laria photographed Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire), Reno Wilson (Good Girls), Rekha Sharma (Battlestar Galactica) and with her husband, James Duffy, also did portraits of Jaimie Alexander (Blindspot), and Mallika Sherawat (Murder, The Myth). She has been awarded for her photography by Eden Arts-UK, Momentum Images of Dance-CT, ArtSlant and Project 30k. Her photographic work has been exhibited at Linus Gallery, 1650 Gallery, Groovworx Gallery, Whole 9 Gallery in Los Angeles, plus Gallery Violet in London. Currently, ArtLifting-Boston, represent seventy of her works including, digital paintings plus normal and experimental photography.
Laria is especially interested in ideas expounded by American philosopher, Ken Wilber in his “Integral Theory. “I am fascinated by the art of perception, nascent ideas and nature’s artistic unfoldment.” The central column seen in a lot of her paintings is becoming her signature style. “I actually keep attempting to veer away from this central column but it keeps drawing me back. For me, it’s about humanity’s evolutionary creative drive and the power of this forward movement. It is also personal and mirrors my own willpower to endure chronic illness.”
Laria has been battling debilitating pain for over two decades; Transverse Myelitis (demyelination-spinal cord injury), daily severe migraine, Fibromyalgia and many other painful and mysterious syndromes. She has sought treatments all over the world, been hospitalized over eight months and has had four surgeries. Due to multiple severe drug allergies, she has only recently has been able to manage the pain. Saunders’ attributes her early obsession with meditation enabling her to survive the Kafkaesque medical maze. “Hurting from head to toe and losing everything, allowed me to completely and utterly STOP and this turned out to be a great catalyst both spiritually and artistically. “
After long period of isolation living in India, Saunders began experimental moving photography and worked exclusively for five years on a grand scale abstract collection in Switzerland, France and California. By moving with her camera, she created what she calls “earth swabs" to form a tiered collection with the evolution of the imagery growing in complexity every year and paralleling the migration of the Monarch butterfly and her own journey.
In 2012, Laria switched to painting on the iPhone and started with self-portraits to reveal the invisible pain. Her migraine art is featured in pharmaceutical sponsored Migraine advocacy campaigns. She then found solace in the abstract world. “The abstract space is poetically similar to dance; the accents, fields and valleys are open to interpretation and have an alternate rhythm, cadence and consciousness to the figurative space.”
Laria currently lives with her husband and golden retriever in Los Angeles and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She exclaims, “I am done with living in the dark, hello world!”
*If you want read about Laria's family of artists, actors and performers click here