Laurie Ourlicht (1953-2010) came to Dieu Donné to make sheets of paper to print her lithographs and fell in love with the look and feel of handmade paper. The environment of the Mill exposed her to the possibilities of what could be done with paper and the experience, technical knowledge, and encouragement from her collaborators got her started on the path that led her out of the two-dimensional print world and into the development of cast paper objects. All of her reliefs were made by pressing paper pulp into a plaster mold that was cast from a clay form. Thelma and Rose is a loving portrait of Ourlicht’s grandmothers, two strong ladies brought together by her parent’s biracial marriage. Ourlicht painted the paper cast with brightly colored gouache and collaged little details to tell their story, such as buttons to suggest Grandma Rose’s work in the garment industry and the uniform to indicate Grandma Thelma’s work as a domestic. The heads are dried apples carved and allowed to shrink, which created wonderful aged beings. Ourlicht’s bas relief, Ladies Night, raucously embraces the three-dimensional cartoon. Her nude bathers sprawl and loll in the bathhouse, porpoises at rest. Just like the rest of our species, Ourlicht is interested in what breaks the water’s surface, and what’s submerged. Working in paper presented Ourlicht with more freedom to reflect on the cultural tensions of black women’s evolving self-image and address questions of identity through her own personal narrative.
Workspace Program artist-in-residence 1990