As part of our Artist Anniversary Series we are profiling Ephraim artist, Laura Klein, who is celebrating 20 years of work at Ephraim with a signature piece “Moonlit Mission Vase”. Laura channels her earthy lifestyle into whimsical sculptural designs at the pottery. We visited Laura at her home on Klein Lane to glimpse into her awesome life and ask her a few questions about how all of this came to be.
When did you first become seriously interested in art?
Always. My mom was an oil painter and a stay-at-home mom. She belonged to the Madison Artists Guild and they would put on small shows where she would sell some of her paintings. She mostly painted surrealistic imaginary people and looking back now I wonder about her feelings as she painted these people. My mom had a studio in the basement and I joined her often to paint. She even had a little kiln and we dabbled in sculpting a bit. One early painting I remember making was a portrait of a woman eating an apple that I submitted to a local art contest. My early focus was definitely on painting.
In some of these pictures you are shown with your curiosity cabinet. Can you share the backstory on that with us?
I started collecting skulls from the beach when I was a kid. Even as a kid I appreciated these skulls as a work of art and thought about becoming an archaeologist. For decades my collection was out of sight, stored in boxes. Inspired by the TV show, “Oddities”, my husband, Ed, bought this cabinet to display my collection. Now it is a focal point. Visitors, especially my two young grandsons, enjoy looking at these unusual pieces.
Tell us about life on Klein Lane.
We really enjoy our house and property and spending time working here is our main weekend activity. A typical weekend day begins by waking at 6:00 am. I have coffee and toast with my six dogs and then take them for a long walk. Next I feed the horses and take them down to the pasture; feed the ducks; collect chicken eggs. Depending on the day, I would spend most of the day working in the garden or working in my home pottery studio. We just bought an adjacent lot with 8 acres of land. Our vision is to turn this into hiking and horseback riding trails. Right now a lot of work and time goes into clearing the creek on this land and building a bridge over the little creek. My day ends with a glass of wine and six dogs on my lap again.
Are there any artists that have inspired your work?
I met my husband 25 years ago when we both worked at Wisconsin Pottery in Columbus, Wisconsin. We both had an affinity for European Arts and Crafts era pottery. I love Amphora and he loves the Martin Brothers. Ed is a fantastic artist in his own right and has taught me so much. We collaborate on pottery at home. I throw lidded vessels and Ed sculpts these wonderful Wally Birds on them.