Born in Nashville in 1926, Laura Spong obtained an English degree from Vanderbilt, married Columbia native, Ernest Maye Spong, Jr., and proceeded to raise six children in our capital city. Over the years she dabbled (one could say successfully) in painting, entering works in several exhibitions mainly in South Carolina, and garnering awards and acclaim for her efforts. Though she re-directed her creativity during a ten-year stint at the Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation, her post-employment years have by far been her most productive.
She describes her style as non-objective expressionism, and cautions that she’s not an abstract painter. Based upon the complexity and depth of her work, it is obvious that a lifetime of emotional, spiritual, and subconscious concepts find their way through her medium and onto her canvas. In the classic sense of non-objective art, she feels the lines, forms, and colors that emerge, and lets them gather in a spontaneous manner rather than utilizing recognizable imagery to convey her thoughts. She has said of her productions that she “loved it when it told me its name.”
Like other expressionists for whom the act of painting itself can be a form of expression (for example, Jackson Pollock’s drip method of painting), Laura Spong has said that she paints because she loves the process. For a woman who celebrated her 80th birthday with a show titled: Laura Spong at 80: Warming the Chill Wind with Celebration, painting is an extension of herself – a way to show what she has learned and what has affected her in good, bad, or indifferent ways – and a way for her to impart pieces of her essence to others.
Laura Spong’s home renovation is part of an attempt to simplify her life, she says, and that very intent might eventually translate into more simplified paintings, too. She points at the recent Bridge Of No Regrets. Unlike her intricate all-over compositions, the painting hinges on several strongly worked and defined areas that stand out against wide-open fields of negative space. “Paintings like that seem to be the ones that are kind of speaking to me right now.”
For more on Laura Spong (and many other artists), visit the if ART Gallery at 1223 Lincoln Street in the Vista.