Portrait of an Artist: Laura Zerebeski
Laura Zerebeski's artistic inclination is to capture mind's eye views of Vancouver from the vantage of a fast-moving bicycle, and then paint them. This sense of movement is augmented by architectural misrepresentation and buildings with personality towards a unique take on Vancouver's cultural icons, from the Waldorf to the Lions Gate Bridge. She paints with a surrealist twist largely reminiscent of Dali.
“My style is a blend. It’s loose, bright, and features architectural misrepresentation. I personify everything, and try to paint scenes how people see them and buildings as if they were the people who live in them,” she says.
When I meet Zerebeski in her Beaumont studio just off Cambie Street, she takes me on a tour of the artist-run space inhabited by jewelers, actors, voice coaches, crafters, and so many other creators. She offers me a drink, then pops open a Beaver Buzz and starts talking at a rapid pace. I gladly come along for the ride.
“Art should be relevant,” says Zerebeski. “I also like to see an artist’s brush strokes in their work. In this age of digital perfection, digital art is almost too perfect—there’s something disconcerting about it.”
Zerebeski always loved to paint, but she didn’t always identify herself as the career artist that she is today. In university, art was an outlet to express dissatisfaction towards things in life she couldn’t control. The result was brooding gothic pieces, and roommates who encouraged her to get some sunshine.
Terrified by the prospect of becoming a stereotypical starving artist, she propelled herself into a successful 17-year corporate career as a project manager for Finning. When she started painting full time in 2008, depression and divorce had ensued but it was more important to work through darkness than to revel in it.
So, she moved forward on a different path: “I've learned that you can't control the world but you can interpret it, and I like to emphasize the colour and character and electricity of life. There is so much joy and motion around us. My hope is that those who like my work get a jolt of familiarity.”
Today, the majority of Zerebeski’s customers order commission pieces of houses and corporate buildings. She’s also done some unusual projects and greatly satisfying projects like the Vancouver theatre background for a children’s pantomime.
The duality of colour and finding balance continually inspire her, and she layers meaning and story in her spot colour pieces, which she often shares with Langara students as a guest class speaker.
Moving forward, Zerebeski has her sights set on a series featuring one work from each major city in Canada, with each work poking fun at the city’s stereotypes—Vancouver’s yoga pants fascination and Toronto’s Rob Ford fetish, for example.
“You can do a dozen cities and make a million jokes about them,” she says with a smile.
Discover more of her art at laurazee.com.