Graffiti Art Is Just Another Still Life

D'Art by Laura Shechter.
D’Art by Laura Shechter, 2012. A photo based painting shows the tagging of street artist Dart, among others.

On Canvas Artist Laura Shechter Takes a Turn Tagging NYC Graffiti

Contemporary realist painter Laura Shechter made three decades worth of still lifes before she turned to urban cityscapes in 2002. By chance her husband snapped a picture during one of their walks along the gonnorhea-ridden Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. That showed Shechter how much the graffiti glory of New York City could offer her as an artist.

“I was painting the still life and felt that I had nothing more to say about it,” Shechter told Brooklyn Street Art. Turning her eye to the city streets that she’d grown up in and around “…was like jumping into the abyss. It presented a new problem where I had to teach myself new skills and develop a point of view.”

D'Art II by Laura Shechter. A subset of the artist's work includes the graffiti trucks that roam the city.
D’Art II by Laura Shechter. A subset of the artist’s work includes the graffiti trucks that roam the city.

For the next six years Shechter created an impressive body of paintings recording in exacting detail the graffiti of all the boroughs of New York, from the Bronx to Lower Manhattan to East Brooklyn. Shechter became an expert in street art through the lens of a studio artist. With incredible virtuosity, she turned her skill with realism toward mimicry of what she saw in stairwells and doorways, on abandoned buildings and from rooftop vantage points.

East 165th St, Bronx by Laura Shechter, 2013.
East 165th St, Bronx by Laura Shechter, 2013. The artist is focused on the cityscape and the street art she finds there, but also pursues deeply technical interests: perspective, compositional complexities and forms of light and dark.

Shechter’s technical skills as a painter–knowledge of light and dark, composition, color–were an asset during this foray. But she also learned a whole new way of working as she recreated the tags and graffiti art depicted in her photo references. “When I’m rendering their tags, I just marvel at their skill,” she told artnet News.

Shechter’s work resides in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum and Chicago Institute of Art among others.

Still Life with a Tray IV by Laura Shechter.
Still Life with a Tray IV by Laura Shechter. An still life from Shechter indicates the type of work she spent some 30 years creating.

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