By Susan Constanse

(Photo: Susan Constanse)

Laurie Trok has assembled her studio, tucked under the eaves of a small rowhouse, with a narrow window providing the only natural light. Studies are tacked to one wall, and materials are packed onto shelves, tucked into boxes, and litter the working tables. In progress and completed work lean against the walls, and some of her recently begun efforts in translating her paper cuts to sculpture sit around the room.

Drawing every day, Ms. Trok chooses her subjects from among her household possessions and from thrift store finds. She practices blind contour drawing, a method of drawing where the artist does not look at the paper but only at the object, drawing the edges without removing her pencil from the paper. The exercise is used by many artists, principally to build observational skills. Ms. Trok finds further inspiration in these sketches, reacting to the line and evolving patterns and shapes that are incorporated into her collages.

(Photo: Susan Constanse)

The collages have considerable depth, consisting of layered pierced and cut paper. Integrated into the lacy cutouts are found elements from print; advertisements, labels and sheet music. Ms. Trok re-purposes and recycles materials for her elaborate collages, utilizing roofing paper, discarded file folders and scrapped building supplies. Some of her work incorporates discarded windowpanes, with dimension achieved by the application of vinyl to both sides of the glass. The shadows created by light passing through the glass evolve throughout the day.

Dimension is achieved by interweaving the papercuts, interplaying tightly woven areas with looser areas to achieve a dynamic balance. The work dances in the air, seemingly unsupported, held together by fine lines. Your eye catches in the knots and tangles, traveling from dense nodes to fine lines, interspersed with flecks of color and bits of pictures. With all of the complexity of line and motion, Ms. Trok limits each work to a few colors, allowing the materials to voice the works themes.

(Photo: Susan Constanse)

The themes of Ms. Trok’s collages are as complex as life, based as they are in the vocabulary of visual journaling. Building her visual language from experience and impulse, the collages grow from their initial simple line drawings, through cutting to curled paths that carry the artist’s journey through a process of self discovery. Woven into the collages are specific images, drawn from found printed materials that reflect her interests, whether of specific issues or broader ideas.

The collages invite you to follow the paths that the artist has, as she works through her ideas and how these ideas relate to her and her world. The work that Ms. Trok produces using her methods form her ideas as much as she herself forms the work.

(Photo: Susan Constanse)

Further experimentation takes place at a small staging area in the studio, where Ms. Trok works collaboratively with Andrés Ortiz-Ferrari to produce video shorts. As collaborators, the artists use a mirror and lights to project shadows, employing colored gels. In Cinematic Steps (see YouTube video) Laurie’s paper cuts come alive through shadow and movement. The delicate lines are diffused with layers of light and shadow. Occasional glimpses of the artist’s hands shift through, lending scale to the abstract images.

Laurie Trok lives and works in Pittsburgh, Pa., and is a recent graduate of Duquesne University. From 2008 until 2010, Laurie worked as a studio assistant with Brooklyn artist Isidro Blasco. She has shown in Pittsburgh at Garfield Artworks and has participated in the VIA Music & New Media Festival. Examples of her collages can be found on her blog. Videos produced in collaboration with Andrés Ortiz-Ferrari can be found on his YouTube channel.

Susan Constanse is a painter, living and working in Pittsburgh. Examples of her work can be viewed on her site: