Erik Laffer: Mapping an artistic life through creation and curation
Erik Laffer’s abstract personal narratives are logical and experimental explorations of place from the past into the present and future.
I was born in Smithtown, New York, in 1982, and was the seventh of eight children. At the age of three, my family moved to Easton, a small town in rural upstate New York, where I lived until I was 14. Then we moved again, to Delmar, a suburb of Albany, New York. I have been moving ever since.
“Given my nomadic background, it’s almost natural that I’ve come to express myself—rather look to shape my identity and better understand myself—in maps. While my early landscapes and figurative works were influenced by the rural environment I grew up in, as well as the feelings of isolation I felt as a child with a learning disability, the representational abstracts that make up my current Cartography Series are not so much a study of emotion, as my earliest works were, but more of a logical and experimental exploration of where I’ve been, where I am now, and where I hope to be tomorrow. My goal with the Cartography paintings is to, as J.B. Harley writes, “redescribe the world,” or at least the small world of Erik Laffer. And just as there is a language of mapmaking, there is style and body of symbols in my paintings that define the landscape of each work and identify my struggle to understand self, family, home, and culture: boats, clocks, buildings, bridges, anatomy, arrows, and, among many others, lines, color, and texture.
There’s a popular expression: “you’ll learn more about a road by traveling it than by consulting all the maps in the world.” While I recognize the truth in this, I also believe there is great value in history and charting where we have been and where we are going. And this is what my Cartography Series represents. After all, some roads—racism, sexism, classism, poverty, and all other forms of oppression and discrimination—are better to understand than experience.
In recent years, I have sought to help other talented artists with important voices find an audience by providing them with representation through The Laffer Galley, a fine art gallery and custom framing shop in Schuylerville, N.Y., which is located just 10 minutes east of downtown Saratoga Springs.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to truly value the relationship between artist and audience, particularly in regard to how the work can become a bridge to dialogue and discovery. The Laffer Gallery has afforded me with the opportunity to create these conversations—both with my own work and the work of the artists I represent.
I am also a partner with AMP Gallery in Saratoga Springs. AMP is a gallery owned by regional artists for the purpose of displaying our individual work in a collective environment that promotes diversity across various artistic disciplines.
Painting—art—has always been my passion…my voice. I am grateful for the artists who share my vision, the collectors who value my work, and the Saratoga and Schuylerville communities who have so welcomely embraced me.