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Hoodoos and Things

Stay Wild

An Interview with artist & plant friend

Laura Berger

Describe your vibes?
A mix of marginally chaotic excited-ness and longing, with a stable undercurrent of slow, loving peacefulness.

The universe is pretty cool. What are the coolest parts of it?
The parts that are mysterious: the death and the life parts (what are we doing?), and the way I can get on a plane and arrive in a completely different world from my own. That’s pretty cool. The big parts help us keep our perspective. For instance, the mountains, the oceans, and the stars are all super nice. I wish I could see stars more often, but I live in Chicago.

Chicago doesn’t have many stars? What does it have many of?
It doesn’t, no. It’s sad but true. I mean, I’m pretty sure they’re still up there, but there are too many lights, so we don’t get to look at them. It does have a lot of different kinds of people doing all sorts of things, which is nice. And it has a lot of neighborhoods and a lot of really good foods to try. There are also, quite literally, a lot of angry city squirrels. They’re very intimidating and badass. One time I saw one all nonchalantly eating a piece of pizza on the sidewalk out of a discarded takeout box. It just looked at me like, “What? You’ve never seen a squirrel eating pizza?”

What is the most wild you’ve ever felt?
I think probably when I did a very magical road trip that was focused around southern Utah—hands down, one of my favorite places on this earth, all the hoodoos and things. Magic. We did some sleeping outside on big rocks with no tent, which was wonderful and new for me. I woke up to a wild dog (dog-like thing? semi-coyote? lost dingo?) sniffing at my head one morning just before dawn. That was pretty wild. Also spent some time on a trip in the Bisti Wilderness in New Mexico, which was so quiet and otherworldly. It was a very spiritual place to be.

As an artist, how do you feel about plants?
I feel like they are friends. Being an artist can be quite solitary sometimes, so I’m glad they’re around. We have a lot of them in our apartment, and they all have names. My first plant ever was an aloe plant named Harold. He’s really big and awesome now, and it’s good to have things to grow older with.

What’s with all the natural love and wild nakedness in your work?
It seems like our ideal and true nature—the way we all want to be, fully ourselves, with no ego, inhibition, or fear. It is when we are completely kind and open, allowing us to fully accept one another. It makes me feel good to paint people in that state.

See more of Laura’s work at lauraberger.com & Intstagram: @_lauraberger_