Laura Battle starts simply when painting and drawing—by dividing up a rectangle.
"Through dividing and dissecting the properties that are inherent in a rectangle, images start to appear," Battle says. But a rectangle does not get filled with a cicada-themed oil painting from thin air. Battle is still the artist behind the work, but her process is far from uniform.
"On the one hand, an artist's path is logical. On the other, it's intuitive," Battle explains with a laugh. "It can't be pinned down to a formula."
Battle does not always know what images will appear once she begins working. She lets her mind wander, unleashing her ideas onto the blank space. Created symbols become emblems of an instant mythology.
Speaking with Battle is a bit like an interdisciplinary study. Battle's working process, which she calls "obsessive," borrows ideas from science and mathematics. A methodological approach in division and spatial relations on the canvas blends with a more sociological stance on representing culture through visual symbols. "I don't connect myself to any single movement or group," Battle says. Her pieces could be seen as an expansive reflection on abstract expression, showcasing formal artistic ideas from Josef Albers's color theory and Rudolf Arnheim's analysis of composition.
"I look for connections between art, architecture, textiles, landscape, cultures, different time periods—I try to find ways in which things intersect," explains Battle.
The cover drawing, Antonymns, is two spirals in reverse direction with antonyms positioned excactly in opposition to each other. When she started the piece, Battle had no idea that the last two words she added, always and never, would be upside down to each other.
Intersections are a large part of her work. Studying her art is like looking at a patchwork quilt or playing "I Spy." A letter is positioned alongside a hazy representation of the universe. Squares that look like a kitchen backsplash are painted next to what looks like an outline of a cicada. "I try to make things that have a specific intention and meaning, but people bring their own experience to the things I make and add to that conversation," says Battle.
Images build up, becoming even more complexly layered as viewers experience her work. Battle references Annie Besant and Charles Webster Leadbeater's spiritually meditative writing on art when talking about the viewer experience. "I like to think that the viewing of my art is like Besant and Leadbeater's Thought Forms," says Battle. "It simply becomes an optically charged mental space, in which you can almost dream into the picture and connect with something outside yourself."
Her latest exhibit, "The Power of the Center," is open weekends from 1pm to 5pm through October 16 at The Barn at Meadowbrook Farm, 71 Starbarrack Road, Red Hook. Portfolio: Laurabattle.com.