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Laura Wilensky





by Monica Francisco

Laura Wilensky, an artist who became part of the “Golden Age of New Paltz” is known for her unique art. Wilensky is known for her “spoon ladies” that were exhibited at Fairtree Gallery on Madison Avenue. The largest gallery in NYC has exclusively exhibited her art. Wilensky has caught the eyes of many from her unique ‘spoon ladies’ to her sculptures of animal creatures that may have been the original ‘Arthur’ before the kids show.   


When did you know you wanted to become an artist?

Well, I didn’t necessarily know what I wanted to do. Both of my parents were teachers at different schools so I decided to become an art education major.


Did you graduate with an art education degree?

 Oh no! I was not interested in it. I liked art but art education was just not for me. The great thing was that right when I wanted to drop out of art education, there was a new curriculum and by the time I knew it I got a B.F.A. in ceramics in the Fall of 1969.


Why weren’t you interested in art education? Did you teach any kids?

I did actually. I taught a group of young kids and did some projects with them. I rolled tiles with them, and we even created a picture of Stone Ridge. Each child chose what part they wanted to depict. The only problem was that it’s hard to have them focused. It was a lot, I needed to clean up and have time for preparation. It was exhausting!


How did you know that ceramics was for you?

Once I lost interest in art education, I tried to take a ceramics class. I'm not sure what it was about ceramics that just clicked to me. It was different. Unfortunately, I was unable to get in because spots were limited. I was determined to get into that class even if they didn’t want me to. I spoke to someone and they were able to allow me entrance into the classroom in the afternoon when classes were over by paying a lab fee. I used the room although I didn't take a class to receive credit for it. I was able to use the equipment, so everything I needed was there. 


Seeing a few of your art sculptures, and what got my attention were the animal creatures in your art, is there a story behind them?

No, there is no story, sadly. What I enjoy about the animals in my work is the simplicity that comes with them. All my artworks are simple. I like to incorporate landscapes and trees. There is no story but I like putting small details on my artworks.


You also depict figures that are part human, part animal. Is there a name to them?

To be honest, I never put a name to them. I always thought they looked like insects in some way. I wish I had a name for them or at least made a name. .. I could have maybe made them a little more famous. I remember once, I was displaying these sculptures and this lady and her daughter were taking a look at them. The little girl says to the mom, “Mom they have Arthur,” and that stuck to me. When I went home I went to look up what ‘Arthur’ was and I saw a resemblance. I found out that it was a kids show in the 90s. I laugh and tease around that it was my idea first.    


Who has been your biggest support?

My parents have been my biggest support. They have also been a great help. They gave my husband and I a home on one of their properties, and we would pay them rent. They have always supported me in everything I always did.


What advice would you give to upcoming artist?

Do what you love. If you succeed, you’re lucky and extremely talented. I wouldn’t recommend just being an artist because it is very difficult to have a stable job or income. Back in the day, you could make a living but now is harder. There aren’t many that would pay more money for art that is one of a kind because the stores have it for cheaper. I used to be able to have a steady income but over time it slowed down. Everything has changed and my income is not the same as before. I suggest having another plan and maybe doing art on the side.

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