L A U R A  S P A L D I N G  B E S T

I have been living and working as an artist in the Phoenix and Tempe area for over twenty years. My oil paintings on found objects depict the urban desert landscape. I often arrange individual pieces to work together as installations that analyze the allotment and scarcity of resources in the Sonoran Desert region as well as celebrate the unexpected beauty that can be found in powerlines, transformers and canals set against a boundless western sky.
Using the visual metaphor of the mirage, my landscapes on metal substrates often reflect each other, and appear to distort or melt from their surfaces. The inferior mirage is visible on the hot asphalt of urban desert streets throughout the year. The shimmering mirage on the horizon serves as a false promise of water and resources, and symbolizes the endless pursuit of a shiny, tantalizing paradise that will always be pursued but never actually reached. In my paintings the mirage becomes the melting point and the dry, desert terrain becomes fluid on the shiny found object surfaces.
These objects, often domestic in nature, are carefully selected and contain their own imbued meanings. Whether they are silver trays, teacups or ironing boards, the chosen objects carry weight and value because of their previous use and life. They can feel precious, frivolous, functional, or vain; but they all represent the practice of handing down heirlooms from generation to generation, just as the climate crisis will be handed down to the next generation.
I have been working with this choice of medium and support for over twenty years in various iterations. The very specific feel of oil on a tarnished metal surface is central to my practice. My found objects often suggest the subject matter and composition of an installation and create an automatic connection with the viewer that has them reconsidering their landscape and their role in it.