Laurie’s portfolio includes a variety of street, portrait, nature, and experimental photo-montage and digital collage. Her work has been exhibited in community-based galleries and spaces in NYC, at the IBC in the Netherlands, and for the Suns Of Silence fundraiser/exhibition in Japan. Laurie is the co-founder of 596ArtistUnion, a private art studio in northern Manhattan where she works and hosts events designed to strengthen ties among artists. Whether it’s youth-development in juvenile detention centers, teaching early childhood education, promoting the visibility of female artists, or fundraising events for Autism and Lupus, Laurie’s projects reflect her commitment to community-building in the areas closest to her heart.
KwaK – What’s the most important thing people should take away from this interview about your work?
Laurie – My perspective of the world around me at any given moment. How light touches a park gate, a little girl’s curiosity, the energy of a bboy battle, shadows and shapes, a person/people in their everyday movement, etc. I take notice to a lot of what the average person may not, and I capture it.
KwaK – What’s the most important thing people should take away from this interview about you as a person?
Laurie – My need to express myself. My passion and drive for capturing pictures, organizing exhibitions, events, and gatherings, working with children and bringing out the best of them.
KwaK – Share a bit about young Laurie. Where were you born and raised and what affect has your adolescence had on your photography?
Laurie – I was born in 1978 in Hartford, Connecticut. Being the youngest of three children, I was quite imaginative and kept myself very busy. Constantly out and about on my bike, I was always exploring. I can safely say, I’m solely a visual learner. Music was always played in the house and family car. I was involved in a lot of dance, music and theater. I wrote, produced, directed and choreographed a school musical in the sixth grade, while also being the president of the student council for almost the whole year. I became obsessed with fashion without being an actual fashionista (I was good with my Guess jeans, Keds, and a t-shirt). My grandmother who worked in fashion started a subscription to W magazine for me at age 12. I was so inspired by the photographs, detail of clothing design, and the rise of the “supermodel”. MTV and BET were constant sources. A time when they only played videos. The video format was constant food for thought. Junior year of high school, I attended a performing arts high school as voice major and minored in creative writing and theater. I couldn’t draw or paint to save my life. I have the shakiest hand. I feel all of these elements play a huge roll in how and what I choose to shoot and why photographer has become my main creative outlet.
KwaK – Was there a person of situation in particular that influenced your decision to follow your passion and make this a career?
Laurie – My father, Thomas Markiewicz, was a very creative person. He was always in his workshop building, painting, drawing, designing, etc. I learned a lot by watching my father and how detailed he was with everything he did. Photography was one of his hobby’s. Until recently, I had not seen a lot of his photographs from when he started. He always had a camera, which I wasn’t allow to use. My father grew up in a generation where you got married, had children, and providing for you family was the priority. He was accepted into Pratt Institute but wasn’t allowed to attend based on the belief that being creative was not supportive enough. With much disappointment, my father struggled with 9-5’s and used his creativity as his outlet. For the last few years of his life, he encouraged me to go after what I wanted to do. He believed I had many gifts and was very similar to him. When I’m shooting or doing anything creative, he is always in mind.
KwaK – We admire and commend you for your work with 596ArtistUnion and what they represent. Its always a pleasure to see someone use their time and resources to help strengthen the over all well-being of our community. How long ago did you guys launch and what sparked the idea behind it?
Laurie – In the spring of 2011, my boyfriend James Alicea (BlusterOne) and I wanted to merge our studios together in the open space of our apartment uptown. The space also served as a platform for our friends in the art community to come over, meet/reconnect, share, create and build as well. As our workspace grew, our gatherings did as well. Our goal is to expand within the art community and our neighborhood uptown with small group shows and installations, as well as children’s art classes and workshops.
KwaK – KwaK was built on the vision to strengthen, love, and connect women. As co-founder of 596, why do you feel the building of camaraderie between artists is important?
Laurie – I feel like most times when I attend an opening or gathering, people have a tendency to put on this mask. When really you should be there for the work and celebrating the artist(s). Let’s have a constructive conversation. Let’s have some real dialogue instead of the “how are you’s” and kiss kiss hug hug. Blust and I wanted to have people join us, let their guard down, and enjoy the company. We’ve had all different kinds of creative people over. Over food and drink debates, discussions, stories, laughter, creativity, and work was shared. And everyone couldn’t wait for the next one. The Friday after Hurricane Sandy we had a scheduled “Table Session” and almost cancelled it. To our surprise we had over 15 people sitting around the table drawing and eating through the night until 4 in the morning. It was necessary. We are hoping to relaunch our Table Sessions in the Fall.
KwaK – I can really feel the depth of the moment, beauty and personality through your photography. Any advice to other young photographers, attempting to develop and establish their careers?
Laurie – First, you never stop learning. I’m still learning everyday. I would advise anyone/everyone to always push yourself out of your comfort zone. Being abstract and developing your composition won’t hurt. Get out! Walk around. Shoot all the time. Even if it’s just for yourself. Not everything has to be posted on Instagram. Network. Reach out to other photographers. Create dialogue with them. Visit them. Shoot with them. It’s vital.