Laurel Sparks is a Brooklyn and Hudson Valley-based painter whose work applies esoteric correspondence systems to materialize structures outside of perceptible reality. Woven, stained and adorned surfaces offer idiosyncratic expressions of profound chromatic, mathematical and geometric formulas.
Sparks' exhibitions include solo shows at Kate Werble gallery, New York City; Knockdown Center, Brooklyn and group shows at Cheim and Read gallery, New York City; EFA Project Space, New York City; Franklin Street Works, Stamford, Connecticut; Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York City; Barbara Walters Gallery at Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, New York; Berman Museum at Ursinus College, Collegeville, Pennsylvania; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts; Hessel Museum of Art, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York; DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts; and Art In General, New York City.
Sparks' work has been mentioned in publications such as the New Yorker, New York Times, New York Magazine, The Paris Review, Blouin Artinfo, The Brooklyn Rail, Two Coats of Paint, Modern Painters, New American Paintings, the Drawing Center's the Bottom Line, Art21 Magazine, Vogue Mexico, Boston Globe, Art in America, Bloomberg, Timeout New York, Huffington Post, and Art and Auction.
Sparks received numerous grants and fellowships including a MacDowell Fellowship, Elizabeth Foundation Studio Intensive Program at Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop, New York; Fire Island Artist Residency, New York; Residenza del Palmerino, Associazione Culturale Il Palmerino, Italy; Berkshire Taconic Fellowship, SMFA Alumni Traveling Fellowship and an Elaine DeKooning Fellowship.
Sparks holds an MFA from Bard College and a BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University in Boston, MA.
Their current project Settler Seance is on view at Tinworks Art, Bozeman, Montana, from July-October 2023.
I approach painting as mad science. Interlocking shapes and patterns are determined by esoteric calculations rather than formal design. Directional lines and points are assigned specific colors, numbers and elements. As I follow occult systems of correspondences, the imagery generates itself. Hermetic diagrams, string figures, language and mathematical poetry provide options for compositional scaffolding with an interdependence of modular parts.
In the process of translating these systems into geometric tableaux, I actively seek tension, irregularities and contradiction. Smeared and scraped pigments disrupt the stable elegance of proportionate sequences; feral energy scoffs at precision. Historically, my work is rooted in the influence of esoterica on the global history of abstraction as well as the queer/feminist counterculture spirit of the Pattern and Decoration movement.