Over the past five years, fine arts senior 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.
“Now during my final semester, these two aesthetics have finally begun to become intertwined,” said Lawrence. “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 has been my favorite project to work on to date. 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.”
During a freshman course with Chido Johnson, Lawrence fell in love with sculpture and mold making. He decided to spend a semester abroad 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.”
Lawrence began ultra-violet painting in front of audiences at concert venues. He’s also working on a short film, “Creative Process,” that uses the black light effect and stop motion photography to create a visually stunning sequence illustrating the creative process. The film will require 9,000 individual photographs that delivers a visual narrative featuring a mannequin (an artist) in search of inspiration. The soundtrack will be produced by electronic music artist, KODOMO.
“I like the idea of developing two bodies of work simultaneously; each speaks to a different audience,” said Lawrence. “Furthermore, I love the idea of charcoal drawing one night like many have done thousands of years before me, then the next night catapulting myself back to the present and airbrushing an invisible ultra-violet pigment which was just invented a few months ago. My traditional work is very controlled, but I strive to achieve hyper-realism with any medium I am exploring. My Ultra-Violet work is typically abstract, allowing me to loosen up and express myself more directly. These two forms of expression balance each other out.”
Recently, Lawrence identified a new canvas for his ultra-violet work—apparel. A link to his etsy store can be found at BLVisuals.com [http://www.blvisuals.com].
“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 the knowledge and inspiration he gained in the classroom, he admits that some of his most influential experiences happened “unexpectedly” while attending lectures of visiting artists or during conversations with peers.
His advice to aspiring artists is to “attend required classes, learn your art history, and build a solid foundation/appreciation for tradition. Branch out, explore possible interests, talk to instructors outside of your department and learn as much about various forms of art as possible before you begin forging your own style. Spend your time here taking risks. But most importantly, remember that it is what you do outside of the classroom that defines you. This is where the magic happens.”