Spotlight on Ann Laberge
Tangled grapevine, discarded fabric bolts, rusty dipsticks.
To most people, these objects are mere debris. But to Essex Junction resident, Ann Laberge, they’re a gold mine.
At her home studio nestled in Fort Ethan Allen, Laberge uses found objects to create works of art.
“Everybody tells me I think outside the box,” she said, “but I didn’t even know there was a box until I was about 45-years-old.”
Laberge describes herself as “multi-focused,” a trait she honed during her many years working as a nurse for the VNA. Her most memorable experience during her career was aiding dementia patients. Not only was she able to educate herself about the disorder that affected her father, but she also recognized an important quality in herself: Laberge was a careful observer. She could successfully assist every patient in the room and often improvise on a whim if need be.
After retiring from nursing in 1995, Laberge made art her full-time focus. She found that the same qualities that made her an excellent nurse also lent themselves creatively to her new line of work. Now when she looked around the room — Laberge carefully assigned projects to every object she could see.
When she realized there were only Grandfather and Grandmother clocks, Laberge constructed an Aunt and Uncle clock — complete with working parts, faces and unique personalities.
When she needed some extra light in her basement studio, Laberge converted a flexible piece of dryer hose into a wall lamp.
And when the marching ground in front of the Fort Ethan Allen became overrun by grapevines, Laberge removed them all — then transformed the vines into a free-standing, 7-foot tall buffalo, which now resides behind the pump house at the Gardener’s Supply in Williston.
“With found objects, you learn the limitations of materials,” said Laberge.
And that’s what she told students at The Academy of Visual and Performing Arts about three weeks ago during a “Guerilla Art” workshop she taught at EHS. Laberge brought in some chicken wire, grapevine and fabric and encouraged students to decorate the campus. Students manipulated the materials and beautified the trees, windows and grounds of Essex High School.
While 3-D creations using often-overlooked materials are a favorite pursuit, Laberge also enjoys spending time behind the lens. And her photo subjects follow
the same theme as her other work: minor details, overlooked items, interesting street signs — all the quirks and imperfections that make life beautiful.
“You should learn about everything you’re interested in,” Laberge advised. “As you age, everything will blend together.”
Learn all about Laberge’s interests, see her 3-D and 2-D creations, and take a tour of her studio in the Fort during Open Studio Weekend on May 25-26. Her studio on Dalton Drive will be open each day from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Can’t wait until next weekend? Visit Laberge’s permanent exhibit at CarShare Vermont on Pine Street in Burlington, and check out her website at www.adlaberge.com.
AVPA Master Class Workshop with Ann Laberge
Click HERE for photos!