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Meet Laela White

Today we’d like to introduce you to Laela White.

Laela, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley and moved out to South Central when I was 18. I have always been in the arts and creative in some capacity — when I was younger, I danced, did theatre, choir, and a Capella. I developed tendonitis in my knee when I was 14 so my initial dream of dancing professionally ended. Visual arts was always something I liked to do but didn’t take it seriously until my senior year of high school when my AP studio art teacher Ms. Hart encouraged me to pursue it. Now, I’m a little less than a month away from graduating with my BFA from Otis College of Art and Design. I also recently started an in house gallery with my best friend in response to COVID-19 shutting down our campus and our class not being able to graduate on stage or have our senior show. We’re in the middle of curating our second show, which is quite exciting and a breath of fresh air in these uncertain times.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
No, no it has not been a smooth road. Stability hasn’t always been something I’ve been partial to. I had to grow up much sooner than I should’ve and was exposed to and forced to deal with things that the average teenager didn’t. Also making the decision to go to art school instead of pursuing a career with a clearer path when I could’ve with my grades and SAT score wasn’t something that was immediately celebrated. I’ve put myself through college and signed away my life every six months on all my loans, and that hasn’t been easy. I’ve also struggled with my own self-confidence and believing that I made the right decision pursuing art and that I could actually succeed in this career choice.

Please tell us more about your art.
I’m a visual artist that works across mediums. I specialize in abstracted figurative paintings, illustrations, and ceramics. My work revolves around dark, sardonic, situational humor and bright colors. I pull from personal experience and then add a splash of imagination to make the harshness more bite-sized and palpable. When people see my work, it often starts with a laugh and then followed with a groan when people realize the darker undertones.

I’m most proud of my work because it’s been a journey finding my voice and allowing myself to make things because I want them to exist in the world. A big part of art school is critical thinking and feeling compelled to reference art history or to have some thought out conceptual reasoning for making things. While these things are important and I’m happy I’ve learned how to frame my thinking, it was liberating when I arrived at the conclusion that I can make the work I want to make and frame it in a fine arts context, while not having to attempt to legitimize it with some conceptual theory. I feel my humor, attention to detail, and mastery of skill all working together set me apart from others.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I define success as being happy with what I’m doing and not worrying about how bills will be paid. I want my work to make people laugh and maybe feel seen. A lot of people have shared experiences but seldom talk about it openly and I hope my work can alleviate that. I feel like when I’m learning, challenging myself, jumping into the unknown and facing what feels scary head on is a sign that I’m on the right path.

Contact Info:

  • Website: laelawhite.co
  • Email: laelawhite@gmail.com
  • Instagram: vangoghawayy
  • Other: Instagram for in house gallery: @hazardandwhite

Image Credit:
Schuyler Hazard — sardines and cheetos images

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