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Issue 39 Artist Statement

Laura Ferguson

My drawings form a visual autobiography: drawing as storytelling, without the need for words. A life-changing experience at age thirteen—a spinal fusion for scoliosis and a year in a full-body plaster cast—heightened my connection to my body and my awareness of all that is hidden under the surface of our visible selves. When disability made it hard for me to be out moving through the world, I made my body’s life the subject of my art, finding beauty in a curving spine and exploring the connections between pain, consciousness, and creativity.

My “floating colors” art-making process imbues my work with the dynamics of water, fluidity and flow. I sprinkle thinned oil paints from a brush onto a tray of water, and the dense drops of color spread out to reveal their inner structure as if magnified under a microscope lens. For someone whose physical life is constricted and whose range in the world is limited, this sense of an inward opening is wonderfully liberating. Inside my body I find a world I can marvel at and never get to the end of, a cosmos of infinitely unfolding detail.

Drawing from my own radiology scans, and from bones and cadaver dissections in the anatomy lab, I work to evoke the textures of real flesh and bone: a sensual take on anatomy, a reclaiming of the inner landscape. I feel my body pouring directly into the lines I make on the paper, remembering how it feels to move freely, feeling pain but also feeling it dissolve into fluid grace.