ILLINOIS HISTORICAL ART PROJECT
LAURA VAN PAPPELENDAM
LAURA VAN PAPPELENDAM was born near Donnelson, Iowa, and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago. Her outstanding teachers were Sorolla, Hawthorne, George Bellows, Nicholas Roerich and Diego Rivera. She has painted in Mexico and in various parts of the United States-particularly the West and Southwest. She is a member of the Chicago Society of Artists, the Arts Club of Chicago, the Renaissance Society of the University of Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago Alumni Association and the South Side Art Association, and has exhibited in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, .St. Louis, Minneapolis, Boston, Brooklyn, Omaha, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Columbus, Toronto, Memphis, Evansville, Ind., Edinboro and Scranton, Pa., and Andover, Mass. One-artist exhibitions of her work have been held at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Galleries Association, and in Madison and Milwaukee and in Keokuk, Iowa. She has been awarded the William 0. Goodman Prize of the Art Students League in Chicago, the William R. French Gold Medal in the American Artists Exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Jules F. Bower Prize in the exhibition of Artists of Chicago and Vicinity at the Art Institute of Chicago. She is represented in the permanent collection of the Chicago City Commission for the Encouragement of Local Art, the New Trier High School of Oak Park, Ill. Curtis B. Camp, Walter Brewster and others. Her work has been written about in Chicago newspapers.
Subject matter in my work is always apparent, but I don't believe it is because of interest in any particular subject that I choose to paint certain pictures. I never know what kind of a subject will thrill me. Very opposite types of subjects are breath-taking; it is the possibilities I see in existing relations that get me wild to work. The subject is a thing on which the design is placed. Subject matter gives one a chance to express something. I am trying to keep the feeling of the subject and organize it into design. Form plays a very important part in my work and becomes more so all the time. By form I mean more than bulk. The form of the picture includes the good relations of volume, line, mass, color, etc.-all combined to make a good eye movement. I try to use color so that it works structurally in the picture as well as to help show volume or make planes keep their places. I do pure abstractions only as try-outs for larger pictures; but I have a large one drawn for painting now. Art may be purely abstract but it is not necessary that it be so. Certainly the artist needs to think in abstract terms, as it is these abstract qualities rather than the subject which are art qualities. The purely abstract is the thing behind or under the subject matter, and it is what really counts. My work is personal in the sense that I am trying to do my best and am not concerned with copying anybody. I am trying to establish the best relations that I am capable of making in each picture; trying to relate my subject matter to the rectangle within which it is placed. My work is personal in the sense that I paint only what I am interested in. I do not think of any contribution to society when I paint. As for influences, George Bellows started me to thinking in a new way, Nicholas Roerich inspired me much and Diego Rivera opened my eyes to new wonders. My work may or may not be an expression of our time; however, it certainly is not an expression of a past age. Whether it is peculiarly of America, I cannot say except that I have never left America to paint. I paint in Mexico, but then Mexico is after all part of the continent of North America. Laura Van Pappelendam.