“The horse is a magnificent creature, historic western icon and my longtime muse. The process of discovering the essence of a horse within the mud and transforming this into contemporary ceramic artworks remains my great joy and artistic passion. With a nod toward ancient artifacts of countless civilizations, my sculptures intentionally appear as relics, treasures to honor the profound age-old human and equine relationship.”Amy Laugesen
Amy Laugesen creates modern-relics by hand building equestrian figures from clay and experimenting with unique combinations and applications of glazes. “I love the process and have gravitated towards ceramic clay—that connection with earth—playing with the mud.” Amy Laugesen received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and Fine Arts Diploma from the Boston School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University.
Her journey as an artist is as much connected to being a native of Colorado as to her deep, personal, and historical love of horses. “There is a global knowing of the horse. It’s amazing how deep that connection is for citizens of the world throughout the centuries,” shares Laugesen. For the artist, that network of connection is vast, from the artists of centuries past to the anecdotes she hears from clients who can relate to her equine passion. “I am still exploring and still wanting to connect with horse—a nostalgia I can relate to the American West. We grow up with stories of horses, seeing horses on wheels or rockers, experiencing them through play, through memory of a grandmother’s ranch, whatever it may be—horses as figures of the arts and Western culture are not new,” says Laugesen.
“Horses are the most personal subject matter for me, both in my personal connection with the horse and how they connect me to other generations or past centuries.”Amy Laugesen
Amy’s personal relationship began with her childhood horse, “Tic Tac,” who served as a deep well of inspiration and love, and a powerful figure who helped her through a challenging time. As she stepped out into the world to pursue the arts, she left her horse behind, but he remained her muse, bringing the concept of memory into her art. “In college my work started with ancient artifacts, where the edges start to blur with memory,” remembers Laugesen. “With the form of the horse you can blur out the extremities and still have the figure of the horse.”
When Laugesen starts to “play in the mud,” as she says, in her studio in Crestone, Colorado, she allows the figures to emerge from the clay, rather than forcing the subject. “With all my pieces, I come to them, and I am taking that look at the horse and allowing the figure to be born from the clay,” explains Laugesen. “In some ways it has a mind and energy of its own. You can push it to some extreme, but the combination of various things coming together can also fight you. There’s a similar personality in the medium I work with and the subject matter.” Every work is one-of-a-kind and can’t be recreated even if she wanted to, thanks to the unique nature of the clay, glazes, and firing process. “Each firing has it’s own atmosphere,” says Laugesen, laughing. “I love that part about sculpting and what I do.”
Laugesen uses a variety of different clay bodies, a beautiful deep red clay, a paper white clay, and a pink-orange clay. When these clays are combined with her textured surfaces, layers of glazes, found objects like castors or a vintage weathervane, floating mounts or grounded bases, a modern relic is born.
Of her small works, a main distinction is created: figures that are grounded to the base versus figures that are floating. “Where the horse is not connected to the base or touching the ground, I feel like it gives more movement in the gesture and connects to that relic, something more ancient and weathered, and a little ethereal, sometimes mythological [like Sun and Moon orPetra]. When a piece is grounded to the base, it is also energetically grounded, more powerful and familiar,” like Diamond Mare orRed Horse Band.
Most visible are Laugesen’s large-scale public installations at the Museum of Outdoor Arts in Englewood, CO; Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, and the Lowry Community Open Space in Denver, to name a few. However, Amy loves “the opportunity to really work on gesture, energy, and movement in a small piece.”
She was awarded a 2010 & 2012 residency in Hayden, CO through Colorado Art Ranch; 1st & 2nd place awards in the Sculpture Category 2014 Rocky Mountain Horse Expo Art In The Park Exhibition and 6th Place Award in the Sculpture Category in Ex Arte Equinus V: Images From the 5th Annual International Equine Art Competition of Art Horse Magazine 2011-2012. She is an Affiliate of the National Sculptor’s Guild in Loveland, CO. You can find Laugesen creating in her Denver and Crestone, Colorado studios, or outdoors with her horse friends.