Featured Artist Laura Waller
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Laura Waller graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Newcomb College of Tulane University and received her Master’s Degree from Tulane. Concurrent with studies in sociology, psychology and social work, she developed a passion for art and art history. After an eleven-year career as a professional therapist, Laura Waller became a certified financial planner and founder of the successful Waller & Wax Advisors firm in Tampa, FL. Throughout her thirty-year career in finance, she continued to paint and study independently with noted artists in Arizona, Florida and Maine.Since 2012, Waller has maintained a full-time studio practice in Maine and Florida. Her award-winning paintings have been featured in nine solo exhibitions since 2015 and 22 group exhibitions since 2006. In 2016, she received the Individual Artist Grant and the Carolyn Heller Visual Arts Award from the Arts Council of Hillsborough County.Her work is included in numerous corporate and private collections nationwide and was most recently acquired by the Tampa Bay History Center and the American Victory Museum, both in Tampa, FL.
“Who best knows what products work best for an artist than an artist?”
Intrigued by the massive commercial ships and vessels I found at the Port of Tampa Bay, located near my Florida studio, I began the Working Waterfront series of paintings in 2013. I was interested in the massive scale of container ships and how light transforms the various surfaces of steel hulls, anchors, and architectural elements. My research included a private tour of the Port which is not open to the public. From a small powerboat providing a water/ground level of perspective, I photographed what I saw happening within this international shipping hub; the process of loading and offloading containers, tugs transporting ships to and from the Port’s narrow channels, and vessels in dry dock for maintenance and repair. I accompanied a harbor pilot taking a ship from the channel, through Tampa Bay out to the Gulf of Mexico as it journeyed to its next port of call. I also began to regularly track specific ships online as they navigated to each port globally.By 2016, I completed 60 paintings of the Port of Tampa Bay and, being so immersed, realized the vital role the shipping industry played in our global economy. But it was in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, that that awareness became heightened. Because of the pandemic, shipping goods reached emergency status with orders delayed, shelves emptied of essential goods, and the industry faced a drastically decreased workforce. International commerce was nearly brought to its knees.I am beginning to paint ships at the Port of Portland, located on the Atlantic coast in Maine, where I have a studio, as an extension of the Working Waterfront series. Focusing on specific architectural elements, which can shift between abstraction and representation, I am interested in exploring how natural light in the northeast differs from Florida’s sunlight and how shapes and colors are perceived.