Studio  January 11, 2022  Colleen Smith

Amy Laugesen’s Herd of Mixed-Media Horses

Photo by Stephen Hume Ann Korologos Gallery.

Amy Laugesen, SUN & MOON. Ceramic. Each measures 18 x 16 x 6.5 in.

Amy Laugesen, a Denver native, sculpts horses and mules in homage to their roles in the history of Colorado. However, her rustic yet elegant ceramic and mixed-media equine sculptures look as if they could have been created on another continent in another millennium.

“I approach my glazing not in the traditional sense of glazing, but for patina. I choose glazes that look like they have been buried or rusted or weathered so they have a sense of history to them,” says Laugesen in a telephone interview. “I also gravitate to layering of glazes, using underglazes and layers of mark-making. I like my pieces to look like bronze patinaed with salt air to that blue-green, or peeling paint, or rusted steel.”

Courtesy of the artist.

Amy Laugesen’s sketch for DAWN (2002), located on permanent display in the median at 6th Avenue and Roslyn Street in the Lowry development area of Denver.

Laugesen’s essential lines of equine shapes reduce the animals to elegant essences. Her bases of steel or wood add artful elements of design, juxtapositions that complement the ceramics. She might incorporate an artifact, as well, in her mixed-media sculptures.

On Laugesen’s website, her artist statement notes, “With a nod toward ancient artifacts of countless civilizations, my sculptures intentionally appear as relics, treasures to honor the profound age-old human relationship with these magnificent creatures.”

Laugesen credits her relationship with her childhood horse, Tic Tac, as inspiration for all the equine sculptures she creates.

“Horses and sculpting always bring me comfort,” Laugesen says. “I guess these pieces are emotionally helping me navigate this turbulent time.”

Courtesy of the artist.

Amy Laugesen in the studio.

The artist’s education and career path included both coasts, with stints in California and in Massachusetts, but Colorado is home. The artist draws inspiration from the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Milky Way views from the off-the-grid home studio she shares with her husband, Stephen Hume, a photographer and filmmaker. The couple recently relocated from Denver to Crestone, CO.

“The San Luis Valley has a rich horse heritage,” says Laugesen. “I strive to capture the essence of the ancient, deeply-rooted relationship between human and horse. Success to me is when someone connects to my work on a level that cannot be expressed in words, a place that evokes memories of relationships with horses, across time and space."

Across time and generations, Laugesen’s family tree is rooted in the arts. Her maternal great-grandparents both were artists, and her maternal grandmother, as well. Monuments sculpted by her great-grandfather, Bela Lyon Pratt, are installed outside the Boston Public Library and at Yale University.

Laugesen also learned formative skills from her dad. “I developed my love for tools, working with a variety of materials and how to build things from my father in his home workshop,” she says. “This may be the reason why I became a mixed-media sculptor.”

Courtesy of the artist.

Amy Laugesen, HORIZON, 2001. Concrete and steel. 7 x 16 x 5.6 feet. Museum of Outdoor Arts, Englewood, CO.

Along with her gallery-sized sculptures, Laugesen created a number of site-specific public artworks installed in metro Denver.

“It’s fun to learn how people discover and interact with [sculptures] in a particular space,” she says of her public art. “Having a piece that is site-specific responds to community and history, the location. Maybe it becomes a landmark, so you get a sense of place. And those pieces definitely connect with the elements so [they] have to be durable and withstand the climate. To work in that scale and hiring cranes to install the pieces gives a thrill. It’s a whole different way of working when the piece is interacting with the public—making sure it’s safe in the environment. It’s daunting on some level and exciting and thrilling.”

Laugesen is thrilled to show her smaller sculptures again in the 2022 Coors Western Art Exhibit & Sale. She’s been included among the artists in this prestigious annual show consecutively since 2013.

“There are not many artists in the Western genre who can take a common theme—in this case, the horse—and cross so many boundaries,” shares the curator of the Coors exhibit, Rose Fredrick, in an email. “She bridges past and present, ancient and contemporary.”

About the Author

Colleen Smith

Colleen Smith is a longtime Denver arts writer and the curator of Art & Object’s Denver Art Showcase.

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