Lauren Hémard is a New Orleans-based Artist & Naturalist whose creations are often inspired by the wetlands landscape.
Q: Please describe your work and the medium/media you use. Why do you make this type of art?
A: I am best described as a multimedia artist, not as much for using multiple mediums in each work, but for the constant rotation between mediums. I’m always hovering through and back around to painting and illustrating, photography, textile art, printmaking, song and digital collage.
Nature, the elements, spirit and dreams … these have always been inspiration, and I look to the connectedness of nature for every answer, every question the universe poses.
I like to think of my imagery as a blend of the natural world and dreamscape. It’s a place where I long for us to exist. Being idealistic about our issues doesn’t help save the earth, but imagining ourselves in that interconnected plane with nature and humanity can help us visualize peace on this planet. Visualization is a big step toward a goal.
Q: What is most striking or inspirational to you about the wetland landscape?
A: There are countless reasons the wetlands inspire me. They surrounded the story of growing up here, familiar, comforting, just part of it all. Then I grew and learned so much about them, the role they play in the environment and in countless aspects of our local culture. They were once described to me as “Floating Prairies” and I found that to be the most intriguing description.
Also, experiencing loss throughout life has kept me searching for things in nature to remind me that change is a part of living. The wetlands have become one of those symbols for me, that things change, special things can be ephemeral, and that we should protect these things at all costs while we still have them.
Q: In what ways has the Louisiana wetland landscape changed in your lifetime?
A: Having grown up in New Orleans, I’ve been able to have a close view of the changes in the surrounding areas. You hear about the loss all the time but if you stayed only inside the city, or lived elsewhere you might not notice it in your day to day. Driving down to Grand Isle for instance, there’s so much more water than there used to be. The big Gulf is on our doorstep. You can feel the effect from the big storms that pass through. The continuous strength and speed of Ida for example put on loud display that the buffer had been severely diminished.
Q: Why is it important to you to create art about Louisiana wetlands?
A: For one, it’s a place that I know and feel comfortable with expressing myself through, since it’s the visual language of home. I think it’s important to tell the stories of your home so that people who visit or want to learn about it can understand the humanity and unique landscape of wherever you are, and how those intertwine, especially down here.
Q: In your opinion why is coastal restoration in Louisiana is important? For folks out of state, why is Louisiana’s coastal restoration work important for the nation?
A: Restoration is important because we still want to be here! And the communities closest to the bottom of the “Boot” are the most vulnerable. There are irreplaceable lives at stake, and they hold irreplaceable cultural knowledge and history regarding our most precious and precarious areas. The indigenous tribes of our state, the French speakers, the Vietnamese communities, the fishing heritage, countless stories and working knowledge of their home, the animals, the plants, the healing drive down to the coast through the marshlands, the places on the map that are disappearing before our eyes… for these reasons and for so many other indefinable ones, it is important.
Q: How does your art challenge existing barriers and assumptions about our environmental crisis?
A: My hope is that people come to no longer see Humanity and Nature as separate entities. There is no separating Us from It All, even separating Ourselves from Each Other. The rest could fall into place, the more people share that viewpoint.
Q: Where can people view your work (displayed in galleries or links to websites)?