Bradley Lawrence has developed an extraordinary portfolio in traditional disciplines—life studies drawings, sculpture and portraits. But it’s this artist’s “bright” side that’s stirring excitement in the local art community. Lawrence is blazing new territory in color, light, performance and film through his ultra-violet (blacklight) expression.
“My interest in the ultra violet world was inspired by the psychedelic posters I grew up screen printing with my father,” said Lawrence. “While I was still in school, I spent a month working on a single 50"x83" painting, which appeared as a typical white cloud/blue sky scape. Then, I glazed an invisible ultra-violet pigment over the painting so when the light transitions to ultra-violet, vivid hues of a sunset are revealed on the canvas.
“This was one of my favorite projects to work on. Switching back and forth between lights, painting with pigment glowing on your palette/paint brush to create an illuminating scene, the feeling of treading on brand new territory. I had a blast with this piece, and continue to enjoy my audiences’ reactions as the painting morphs before them.”
A few years later, Lawrence identified a new canvas for his ultra-violet work—apparel.
“My traditional work is accepted/received by a specific audience; furthermore, the labor spent on each work makes them only affordable by a certain class,” he explained. “My apparel was a response to this. I liked the idea of creating a one-of-a-kind painting, which could not only be afforded by other college students my age, but could also be worn around instead of hanging statically on a wall. We don't have houses yet. We can't afford a car which is an extension of our personalities. The clothes we choose to wear are one of our greatest forms of expression, and I just want to make something that people are excited to wear/show off.”
While Lawrence credits CCS for giving him a foundation in traditional art, he admits that his venture into experimental work was rather unexpected. During a freshman course with Chido Johnson, the artist fell in love with sculpture and mold making. He decided to spend a semester abroad learning about fine art and studying drawing at the Burren College of Art in Ireland. The remote location as well as traditional mindset inspired him to spend the entire four months working in charcoal.
“I developed a duality in my aesthetic when I returned from Ireland,” Lawrence explained. “After spending four months doing charcoals, I craved the reintroduction of color to my work. My dad had been screen printing ultra-violet tapestries for decades, but I had not previously embraced the media in my own work.”
A few months after graduation, Lawrence began experiencing pain in his forearms. He was diagnosed with chronic tendonitis in his wrist. The condition impacted his ability to draw, which frustrated him as an artist. He began to take more interest in his hydrodying methods as a form of art therapy.
“I was motivated by my friend and Purple Heart Marine, Michael Zach,” said Lawrence. “We debuted Arm Dipping at Electric Forest Festival in 2013. Unable to draw or sculpt, traveling and painting became our road to rehabilitation.”
To check out more of Lawrence’s work, visit http://www.blacklightclothing.com.