Current Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Education: Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD)
Preferred Art Medium(s): All kinds of fabrics and threads, but Encaustic Painting was my first love.
Children (ages and genders): 10 Year old boy
Website address(es): www.LaloWorkshop.com
What is your background (where are you from, education, important details, where are you know, etc.)?
I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and always assumed I was bound for a different place to call home. I am still in Milwaukee and call it home (for now). I travel a lot to show my work, so I have a regular chance to meet new people and explore new places.
I graduated from MIAD with a Painting major and a double minor in both Drawing and Printmaking. Until recently, my art making life was consumed with Encaustic Painting and the alchemy in making all the resins, pigments and wax suspensions.
Was there any part of your formal or non-formal training that prepared you for being a creative maker and mother simultaneously?
Nothing has really prepared me for being a mother. Navigating motherhood and maintaining a creative practice seems only possible for me with the support of my husband, Ray Chi. I don’t know how I could manage both successfully if I were doing it alone.
Before I became a mother, I started to notice the paths change for friends of mine who had soon become mothers. They were dreaming bigger and pursuing their careers with a greater drive and passion. I remember the exact day when I realized I was in the same position. I was halfway through my pregnancy and so curious about how my path was going to change once I became a mother. Within the first year, I had started a zero-waste, sustainable and gender neutral clothing brand for kids called Lalo.
Are there any women that you find to be an inspiration for you as an artist/mother?
Not one in particular. I find community within all my relationships with women. I am a member of a group called Art Boss. We meet regularly to discuss and share are experiences as makers, designers and artists of small businesses. We all happen to be women and I love it.
Can you talk about how you balance your role of artist and the role of mother? Did you take time off after the birth of your children? How did that work? What about childcare? How did you navigate making artwork?
I was managing a wellness clinic which closed right before I found out I was pregnant. It was fortunate that I didn’t have a job to return to because the first 11 months of my son’s life was quite a struggle. That stretch of time was the longest break I’ve had from my creative self. We have never had extended family around to help with childcare, so our lives were initially consumed with scraping together a living and caring for our son. Most things were out of balance for a bit, but I began to carve out time to grow this little project called Lalo.
You were formally trained in painting, drawing & printmaking. What was the catalyst for moving into sewing and fabrics? How do the sills from the mediums of your formal schooling help you in your sewing endeavors?
My pregnancy was unexpected and my studio practice came to a halt. The fumes and materials I was using for my paintings were not safe while I was pregnant. I quickly turned to exploring hand crafts, free form crochet, weaving and sewing. It seemed like a full turn from my formal art training. I believe the perceived divide between art and craft is narrowing and I really enjoyed the play and exploration.
Your current line of clothing began with kids clothing. Where did your inspiration come from? How and when did you expand and transition into including women’s clothing in your making repertoire?
I was clueless about the world of kid anything until I became a mother. Then….I kinda freaked out. Children’s clothes are so gender specific. The stereotypes of what should be female and what should be male is so gross. This is where I wanted to change things and it first started with just making clothes for my son. I focused on gender neutral pants in all kinds of colors and patterns. Transitioning my art practice into sewing wasn’t a stretch for me. Basic sewing and following a pattern are skills my grandmother taught me when I was 8 and I always kept up at it. I’ve made most of my own clothes my whole life. My signature Women’s piece called the Cloak was originally designed to make breastfeeding easier for me. I wasn’t comfortable with the ‘lift up your shirt’ to get access style of breastfeeding. A long dress with a separating zipper was a functional, intentional piece of clothing with a modern aesthetic that was a solution to my conundrum. It feels good to design a solution and make functional art.
Your women’s clothing is distinctly unique while also feeling familiar. Where do you get your inspiration for the lines and shapes of the garments? And the final form of your fashions is it directed more by the pattern or the fabrics themselves (or both)?
I like how you phrased that and it feels accurate. It’s impossible for me to pinpoint inspirations because I don’t really work that way. I am confident about what I like and what I’d like to see….what a beautiful pattern and texture and unexpected composition can reveal. My approach to materials and building has been consistent throughout my creative life. Garment building starts with solidifying the matrix or pattern. Then I use the fabrics to push or pull the color, pattern and textures. Each piece is a singular matrix but one of a kind.
What is next in your work? Anything we ought to be on the look out for in the near future? Where can we find your works?
I have just recently finished two new pattern designs for a hooded pull over and a zippered waistcoat for women. This holiday season I will be in Chicago for Show of Hands and The One of a Kind Show and in Milwaukee for the Urban Garage Sale and Hovercraft.
Are there any projects, hobbies, or activities (ex. Running, knitting, tea connoisseur, arts organizations, volunteering, etc.) outside of your artistic practice that you feel passionately about? What are they? Do you find them feeding your practice? If so how?
Practicing Yoga has become essential and informs everything I do. Gardening and Landscape design….digging in the dirt is elemental for me and brings everything into balance. Making skin care products and herbal remedies is an empowering self care practice that I love to share.
Finally just for fun. If you were to make a playlist today what would be your top 5 favorite songs?
- Zombie by Fela Kuti
- The Breeze/My Baby Cries by Bill Callahan
- Oh Comely by Neutral Milk Hotel
- Fly Pirate by M.I.A
- Stars by Angel Olsen