2023 Campus Artist Spotlight: Laura Milkins

The Community Foundation for Southern Arizona and CF Campus are thrilled to highlight individuals currently showcasing their art on our Campus! In March 2023, CF Campus welcomed 60 newly installed pieces of art that will be on display for a year and available to purchase. CFSA is proud to offer this opportunity to local artists at no cost and receives no commission on artists’ sales. 

Featured artist Laura Milkins is an interdisciplinary artist living in Tucson, Arizona. Originally from Pentwater, Michigan, Laura credits memories of growing up in a time when children were allowed unsupervised time in nature as a big inspiration for her work. She recalls Lake Michigan’s cool blues and golden rays of late-day summer sunshine, running along the dunes with the wind in her hair, fishing for perch, throwing back small sunfish, collecting shells and driftwood, and sketching at the beach with her mom. To Laura, her artwork all stems from this love of nature and her desire to capture and connect to its essence.

Her work explores vulnerability, intimacy, and the body, using a variety of media, online interactive performance, video, drawing, painting, and live radio/podcasting. Through storytelling, Laura’s work examines the connection between technology, community, and notions of identity. Her projects highlight the delicate balance and intrinsic role nature plays in our daily lives and the positive influence it continues to have on our bodies and minds.

Q&A with Laura Milkins

Tell us about your favorite medium. Why is it your favorite?

I am a serial monogamist when it comes to mediums… I am currently in love with watercolor but am starting to be seduced away by pastels. Watercolor is transparent and ethereal, slowly soaking into the paper but letting the white of the paper remain fresh and crisp. Meanwhile, pastel is messy and physical yet soft and malleable. Both are colorful and require a delicate touch. Not sure why their color and technical challenges appeal to me at this point in my life. Maybe I need delicacy and color.

Where do you find inspiration?

My wild love for nature has remained the same. Meanwhile, the world has shifted around me. My work reflects the ways we connect and disconnect from the natural world. It is difficult in this era of instant information and technology overload to feel centered and connected to the present moment. Being in nature helps me reflect on my own behavior and makes me aspire to kinder, healthier ways of living. I believe we are all healthier and happier when connected to the flora and fauna around us. My work focuses on deepening this connection through work that is detailed and realistic in its execution, steeped in issues of social and environmental justice, and yet fanciful in theme and narrative.

How do you usually start your pieces?

Work, hibernation, play, work, hibernation, play. After finishing a big series, I usually rest and do very little artwork. Then I play with materials and make little images, nothing I’d show publicly. After a month or two, an image/idea emerges, and I feel compelled by it. Then I make 20 or 30 or 100 images/ audio pieces/ videos/ performances. I work on the series until it is complete. Usually, it takes a year or more… and then I hide and hibernate.

What motivates you to create art?

I think it is a way of organizing the world and understanding something about myself. But, in truth, I don’t know why I am so compelled to create. All I know is that I have been making artwork for nearly 50 years, and I can’t imagine stopping.

Why do you think it is important for art to be part of public spaces?

The work isn’t complete until you share it. Sharing it completes a loop: from idea to image to sharing the image. It is even better when you hear back from the viewer and get to hear what they are experiencing by seeing the work. It’s like a conversation, back and forth.

Laura’s work is currently on display at CF Campus.
Contact Campus to schedule a time to see Laura’s work and the other artwork on display.

Check out more of Laura’s work on social media:

Facebook – Laura Milkins

Instagram – @lauramilkins