Laurette Kovary is a New York based artist who is currently living in Abu Dhabi. In 2014, she followed her husband Chris, an architect to this cosmopolitan capital of the United Arab Emirates. Laurette, Chris and I go way back to our days at Pratt where we all first met. Following Laurette’s wonderful photos on her Facebook page inspired me to ask her to share a few pictures on my blog, along with some of her thoughts of the inspiration, and challenges she has found living in the Middle East as an expat.
NH: Tell us about a mind shift that has occurred to date, be it personally or with your work.
LK: I’ve surprised myself on a lot of levels, having learned from the “get go” to put aside any initial judgements, fears and expectations about what I thought I would find in a place far away and very different from the American culture. I’ve always pictured myself to be a person accepting of any tribe, slow to judge a book by its cover and I’ve been pleasantly surprised to have my own instincts about my personal nature verified. This move has been a mind shift in that I am more confidently learning to trust my own voice and continue to see the good in most people where ever they are or may be from.
NH: How has your work changed or been influenced by your experience so far?
LK: Weather and my environment has always had an impact me both in its effect on my personality and influenced my work. Here, the architecture is predominant with a cacophony of color and shape, and varied with no rhyme or reason. This is in stark contrast to the vastness of the desert with its muted tones and simple lines. I’ve been exploring both in my work in a new series with dual mediums of collage and oils under the umbrella title “Lost & Found in Arabia”
NH: Tell us about the art community there, other artists, organizations, galleries, etc.… how have you connected to them?
LK: Abu Dhabi is hungry for artists and they are ready to support the creative spirit. The government pours money into many efforts to showcase cultural activities. The several museums and heritage sights are all free admittance. I pass by the contemporary art museum on a weekly basis, hop out and do a quick run through just to get my mojo going. Its easy. The annual art fair, akin to New York’s Armory show, was a spectacle of an event. Highly publicized and easily traversed, I spoke to more gallery owners and saw more international artists than I did in all of the years I spent in New York.
NH: Tell us about the The Coloristas Collective.
LK: I was fortunate enough to participate in a painting workshop that was supported by one of the few high end galleries here in Abu Dhabi. The instructor was a well-known landscape painter from Crimea who specializes in oil painting. At the workshop I rekindled my love affair with the medium and met several others who felt the same way. The workshop ended over a month ago and am now part of a group of women artists formed from the workshop. We call ourselves The Coloristas Collective and meet at least twice a week to paint at heritage sights all over Abu Dhabi.
NH: Where is your studio?
LK: I have a studio in the second bedroom of my apartment. I came here with the expectation that I would be renting a large studio space in an art hub that is within 10 kilometers or so of my apartment. It turned out to be a relatively sketchy industrial area that I have found a bit dangerous so I’m happily ensconced in the home. I have always been one to take over the whole house so the hardest thing to adapt to is being consigned to a space thats not really meant for creating art. However, this is the first opportunity I’ve had in my entire life to concentrate on making art without having to attend to finding ways to pay the bills. I try not to feel guilty and enjoy this opportunity.
Art is readily available for me to enjoy on any given day and I have made a friend or two to enjoy the discovery with.
What more could I ask for?
how about a plane ticket for your friend?!